Sardinella tawilis, or Tawilis, has been listed endangered and is continuously declining in population in a new research published by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) earlier today.

Most Filipinos would know Tawilis as a favorite food offered in restaurants and eateries in Tagaytay, because this specie is endemic to Taal Lake.  

However, overexploitation, water pollution, habitat loss and predation with new introduced species resulted to the drastic decline in population of this only known freshwater sardinella in the world, according to the IUCN report.

“It is estimated that harvest has declined by about 49% over the past 10 years (more than three generation lengths),” said the IUCN report. “It is inferred that the population has declined by at least 50% over the past 10 years, which qualifies it for Endangered under criterion A2bd.”

IUCN noted that many aquaculture facilities on the volcano island have caused pollution, because of its “domestic waste, and unmanaged tourism.”

Though there has been a decline in the use of fish cages in the Taal Lake after it has been listed as a conservation and protected area in 2017, there are still those who illegally use active fishing gears, motorized push nets and are overfishing during peak months.

IUCN urged the management to renew and strengthen their efforts to protect this endangered fish in the Philippines, otherwise, Taliwis may be closer to extinction than we may think.