Spare ‘tawilis’ this Holy Week

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CALAMBA CITY, Laguna – Fish on the menu is common during the observance of Holy Week when Catholics abstain from meat consumption, but exclude eating tawilis at this time.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Calabarzon said the closed season for tawilis is still in effect until April 30.

Ann Hazel Javier, chief of the DENR Calabarzon regional public affairs office, told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) that tawilis served at restaurants and fish stalls could be an old stock even before the declaration of the closed season from March 1 until April 30.

“These tawilis supply may have been the frozen stuff or refrigerated stocks since February this year,” Javier said.

She said the DENR and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) have been monitoring any breach on the closed season to provide breeding time for tawilis.

The closed season or the strict prohibition on fishing covers those that are declared tawilis breeding grounds at Taal Lake.

It was enforced following research studies by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Philippine Society for Freshwater Science (PSFS), which confirmed the Sardinella tawilis as an endangered species.

Among the recommendations made were the implementation of closed season for March and April, as well as the mesh size to be used for fishing, and the creations of sanctuaries in the lake.

Sardinella tawilis is the only freshwater species of Sardinella found in Taal lake in Batangas.

Data presented at the Tawilis Summit 2019 formed the basis for classifying tawilis under the endangered category. It also showed a decline in the tawilis catch since 1998 and that the fish harvest has dropped by about 49 percent over the past 10 years.

The continuing decline has led two separate studies, in which tawilis had been categorized as endangered and that the reproductive biology of tawilis shows that spawning season peaks during the months of March and April.

The studies have shown that during the spawning season, tawilis are mostly found near shore as its habitat and breeding grounds by feeding on water plants or algae. (PNA)

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