Tawilis

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Tawilis

The tawilis (Sardinella tawilis) is a freshwater sardine found exclusively in the Philippines. It is unique in that it is the only member of the genus Sardinella known to exist entirely in fresh water. It is a small fish, reaching up to 15 cm long and weighing less than 30 g each. Fish have a single, triangular dorsal fin and a forked tail fin. Tawilis feed on plankton near the surface of the water, and roam the lake in large schools. Little is known about their reproduction, but is known that the Taal population spawns during the months of April to July, when surface temperatures are highest.   In addition to raw consumption, tawilis is also processed into various food products. It is one of the many fish species dried, salted, and sold as daing in the country. They are also sold smoked and bottled in oil. Tawilis is considered best served fried or “sinaing style,” by wrapping it in banana leaves and simmering it for a long time with lots of dried and or fresh bilimbi (Averrhoa bilimbi) and salt. In literature, the Philippines’ national hero Jose Rizal used three dried tawilis in his novel Noli Me Tangere to symbolize the Three Martyred Priests of Bagumbayan (Jose Burgos, Jacinto Zamora and Mariano Gómez).   Tawilis is native and unique to Lake Taal (formerly Lake Bombon) on the island of Luzon, a freshwater lake linked to the sea via the Pansipit River that was formed by a series of volcanic eruptions in the 18th century. This species is believed to be one of a few former marine species trapped within the lake that have evolved into purely freshwater species.   Despite its threatened status, stocks in Lake Taal have been commercially fished for several decades. The fish is a widely popular food fish in the Philippines, and tons are shipped to most of the major cities in the country. Local supermarkets and fish markets. Today it is threatened by over fishing and habitat pollution, in addition to the constant threat of volcanic eruption. The entire species exists in one population, and so local extinction would also mean global extinction. Conservation measures and management of the fishery are needed to allow the population to recover for future generations.

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Fish, sea food and fish products

Indigenous community:Batanguenos