The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will declare a preservation area for the endemic “tawilis” fish species at the Taal Lake Protected Landscape and seasonal closure of fishing grounds, an official said Friday.
In a media interview, DENR Undersecretary for Strategic Communications Benny Antiporda said the department is bent on protecting the “tawilis” from extinction after the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) based in Gland, Switzerland has recently listed the “Sardinella tawilis” as an endangered species.
Aside from imposing a closed season to give the “tawilis” time to breed, the DENR will coordinate with other agencies, such as the departments of social welfare and labor, to help fisher folk find an alternative livelihood.
In a separate interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA), Batangas’ Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) Chief Elmer Bascos disclosed that even before the IUCN findings, the agency and the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) have drawn up steps to preserve the “tawilis”.
He said DENR 4-A (Calabarzon) and DENR-Batangas have set a meeting with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) 4A on January 29 to discuss the issue and come up with policy recommendations.
“The meeting will identify ‘tawilis’ conservation areas in the fishing grounds off the towns of Cuenca, Nicolas and Balete,” Bascos said.
He added that PAMB has already passed a resolution recommending a closed season for the “tawilis” harvest in March and April this year.
Bascos said the interagency meeting and the PAMB will also spearhead the seeding of the carp and other fish varieties in the lake to augment the livelihood of the fisher folk.
“Tawilis can only be found in Taal Lake and it thrives on sulfuric waters. But the threat now is overfishing, using active fishing gear, pollution, and the (introduction of) invasive species into the lake,” he added.
“Sana ang mga commercial fishers ay itigil na ang paggamit ng lambat excessively sa (We hope commercial fishers would avoid using nets excessively at the) Taal Volcano Protected Lake and the local fisher folk will have their alternative livelihood starting January 29 once the seasonal closure is imposed,” he said.
Bascos said they will closely work with BFAR as the authority on fisheries resources although the DENR’s mandate is to issue limitations on endangered species, such as those imposed on wildlife.
He also divulged that they monitor the quality of the lake water every quarter.
However, with the new findings, DENR 4-A has committed to conduct an intensive monitoring of the “tawilis” population, as well as the water quality of the lake. (PNA)