‘Tawilis’ fish is back, abounds in Taal Lake

TAWILIS FISH ABOUNDS. Huge tawilis fish yield with surprisingly increased sizes in this photo taken by Lito De Villa, a fisherfolk, at the lakeshore town of the Taal Volcano Protected Landscape (TVPL) while fishing at the Taal Lake’s fishing ground at the mouth of the Pansipit River after the seasonal closure on May 2, 2019.

CALAMBA CITY, Laguna — The endemic “tawilis” fish species now abound in Taal Lake and its lone tributary Pansipit River after the two-month seasonal closure was imposed in March and April this year to give time for the spawning season, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) regional office in Calabarzon confirmed on Wednesday.

In an interview with the Philippine News Agency, DENR Calabarzon Regional Executive Director, lawyer Maria Paz Luna disclosed they have received reports confirmed by stakeholders who expressed amazement at the huge tawilis harvest after the spawning period.

“The closing season from March to April is still anecdotal as of now. I have asked our scientist partners and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) experts who are now conducting their studies on the effect of the closed season,” Luna said.

She said they observed a huge reduction of fishing activities, as the fishing prohibition on tawilis was imposed during the breeding season.

The DENR regional office reported there were still complaints pertaining to illegal commercial fishers who breached the closed season which were most active spawning months for tawilis based on scientific research.

These studies were conducted by Associate Professor Alicia Pagulayan from the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Department of Biological Sciences, and Dr. Maria Theresa Mercene Mutia from BFAR during their Tawilis Summit presentations in February this year.

“Titingnan namin kung ano ang realistic na mai-reserve (We have to validate which are realistic on the reserve areas) out of what BFAR said is necessary. Hinihiling na namin sa mga fisherfolk na huwag muna pakialaman yon pero wala pa kaming parusa sa pangingisda doon (We have already appealed to the fisherfolks not to venture into the reserve areas, but we still have not come up with any penalty),” Luna pointed out.

DENR in Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon) is also coordinating with BFAR and stakeholders on implementing the delineated tawilis reserve areas or sanctuaries.

This, as the multi-agency Taal Volcano Protected Landscape Protected Area Management Board (TVPL PAMB) is enforcing strict adherence to the unified rules and regulations for fisheries based on Republic Act 10654, or the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998, and compliance with the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System (eNIPAS) Act within the protected seascape. (PNA)

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