Agriculture - - Currents - >BY DR. RAFAEL D. GUER­RERO III

The taw­ilis pro­vides an im­por­tant com­mer­cial fish­ery in Taal lake, ac­cord­ing to Maria Theresa MerceneMu­tia, chief of the Na­tional Fish­eries Re­search and De­vel­op­ment In­sti­tute’s Fish­eries Bi­o­log­i­cal Cen­ter in Bu­tong, Taal, Batan­gas. There are more than 2,000 fish­er­folk in the 9 mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties with 70 barangays who solely de­pend on fish­ing in the lake for their liveli­hood.

In 1984, the re­ported to­tal catch of taw­ilis in Taal Lake by re­searchers was 29,000 met­ric tons (mt). The to­tal catch of the fish dropped to 822 mt in 1994-95 and only 294 mt in 2000. The ma­jor cause of the dras­tic de­cline in the taw­ilis catch of the fish­er­folk in the lake is over­fish­ing, wherein the rate of hu­man ex­ploita­tion of the fish sur­passed the abil­ity of the fish to re­plen­ish it­self. The illegal use of trawlers and “su­perlights” to at­tract the fish at night in the past al­most wiped out the species.

Mercene-Mu­tia con­ducted bi­o­log­i­cal stud­ies on the taw­ilis and so­cio-eco­nomic sur­veys of the fish­er­folk in 2013 for her Ph.D. dis­ser­ta­tion with the School of En­vi­ron­men­tal Science and Man­age­ment of the Univer­sity of the Philip­pines Los Baños (UPLB). She did THE TAW­ILIS ( is the only fresh­wa­ter sar­dine in the world found in Taal Lake (Batan­gas), the third largest lake in the coun­try with an area of more than 66,000 hectares and av­er­age depth of 60 me­ters (m). Be­long­ing to the fam­ily Clu­pei­dae, the fish was land­locked with the for­ma­tion of Taal Vol­cano, about 100,000 years ago, which sep­a­rated the body of wa­ter from the sea.

A view of Vol­cano Is­land in Taal Lake.

Fish­ers in Taal Lake.

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