NEW FINDINGS ON THE TAWILIS OF TAAL LAKE
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.