THE WHITE GOBY FISHERY OF NAUJAN LAKE
Naujan Lake was declared a national park by Presidential Proclamation No. 282 in 1956. As such, it is only open to the public for birth watching, educational tourism, and scientific research. Aside from the migratory birds that overwinter in the lake, indigenous and endemic aquatic species in it such as the mullet or banak ( Mugil dussumieri), bigeye trevally or talakitok ( Caranx sexfasciatus), and the freshwater crocodile or buwaya ( Crocodylus mindorensis) are protected and conserved.
A host of indigenous freshwater fishes including mudfish, goby, and milkfish thrive in Naujan Lake. Exotic fishes like the three-spot gouramy ( Trichogaster pectoralis), Nile tilapia ( Oreochromis niloticus), and common carp ( Cyprinus carpio) have been introduced. While commercial or largescale fishing is banned in the lake, municipal or subsistence fishing with the use of passive gear such as the gill net is allowed to provide a source of livelihood for the hundreds of small fishers living around the lake.
In our recent visit to Calapan City, the capital of Oriental Mindoro, we were served crispy fried puting biya or white goby ( Glossogobius giurus) for breakfast at the hotel. We were NAUJAN LAKE is our country’s fifth largest freshwater lake, and is located in Oriental Mindoro. It has an area of 8,125 hectares and a maximum depth of 45 meters. Bounded by four municipalities (Naujan, Victoria, Socorro, and Pola), the lake only has the Butas River as its outlet to the sea. told that the fish was from Naujan Lake and that it is sold in dried form for R550 per kilo in the retail market. There were six pieces of the fish in our PhP 110 breakfast plate, which came with eggs and rice.
During our visit to Naujan Lake, we interviewed Toto Ballila, a fisher of Barangay Bayani. He said that about 30% of his daily catch from the lake using gill nets consists of the white goby. On a good day, he can catch a kilo of the fish working from dusk to dawn. He splits the fish to remove its gills and entrails and then sprinkles about a fourth of a kilo of salt for every three kilos of the fish before drying it under the sun for at least four hours.
It takes three kilos of the fresh fish to produce a kilo of the dried fish. There are about 100 pieces in a kilo of the dried fish. The processed white goby is sold at wholesale prices of R400-R500 per kilo.
A view of Naujan Lake.