Tawilis is now endangered after years of exploitation of Taal Lake
The government has to do something. Really. Now.
Jan 24, 2019
In case you missed it, the world’s only freshwater sardine tawilis joins the red list of endangered species of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). This means that the rare fish species Sardinella tawilis is now very likely to become extinct.
Catches of the small tawilis have declined since 1998 and the harvest has dropped by about 49 percent over the past ten years.
“Within Taal Lake, there are major threats to fish diversity and this species due to overexploitation, pollution, and competition and/or predation with introduced fishes,” writes IUCN’s report. Fish cage operators have introduced bangus and tilapia to Taal Lake. This results in “continuing declines in habitat quality and number of mature individuals.”
IUCN also attributes the decline in the catch to the illegal use of fishing gears like motorized push nets and ring nets, and proliferation of fish cages.
It’s not a surprise. The threat’s already been looming in Taal Lake, Batangas for years now. In 2011, the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture pointed out the same problem. Tawilis is a victim of accumulated years of unregulated and mismanaged overfishing, pollution, and predation.
We private citizens can only to so much to save tawilis, but here are some simple steps:
- Refrain from buying tawilis for now.
- Help disseminate the news about its endangerment.
- If you’re living near Taal Lake, report the overfishing.
- Join projects and organizations that support rehabilitation and conservation of Taal Lake. Here are some organizations: Taal Volcano Protected Landscape and Pusod Taal Lake Conservation Center.
Photo courtesy of cebudailynews.inquirer.net.
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