The Calabarzon Regional Development Council’s Sectoral Committee on Economic Development (RDC-SCED) during its 2019 first quarter meeting on February 12 endorsed the Tawilis Protection and Conservation Action Plan.

The Action Plan includes the implementation of a Closed Fishing Season, based on a comprehensive scientific study, to allow the fish stocks to spawn. According to the reproductive-biology study on Tawilis by the National Fisheries Research and Development Institute, the main research arm of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), closed fishing season for Tawilis should be implemented from March to April. Additionally, there will be an establishment of three Tawilis Reserved Areas where Tawilis larvae are observed to be abundant. The reserved areas, which will be the permanent shelter for protection and natural propagation of Tawilis, are identified by BFAR Region IV-A to be located in the Municipalities of Balete, San Nicolas and Cuenca in the Province of Batangas.

The Action Plan recognizes that there have been existing protection measures in place considering Taal Lake, where Tawilis is exclusively endemic, is a protected area under the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act. However, there is a need for stricter implementation of lake management and conservation laws by the local government units (LGUs) that include the inventory and monitoring of fishing boats, and banning the use of active fishing gears.

To respond to the possible fishermen to be displaced due to the implementation of the closed fishing season and strict implementation of active gears, fishing of other species, especially predatory species such as “Dugong” or wild tilapia, will be encouraged. Also, concerned agencies will provide assistance such as BFAR through their fishing gear distribution. Identification of alternative livelihood will be done in close coordination with the concerned LGUs and agencies through the Technical Working Group (TWG) created, led by the Taal Volcano Protected Landscape-Protected Area Management Board and comprised of the Batangas State University, University of the Philippines-Los Baños and Region IV-A offices of DENR, DILG, DPWH, DOLE, DOT, DTI, DSWD and NEDA.

The RDC-SCED has already requested the Provincial Governments of Batangas and Cavite to enjoin the concerned LGUs to enact ordinances to implement the Action Plan.

Revy Z. Jolongbayan, NEDA Region IV-A | February 27, 2019