Experts discuss endangered Tawilis at UST Forum

The Tawilis Summit 2019 titled, “4Ts: Talakayan tungkol sa Tawilis at Taal” was hosted by the University of Santo Tomas on February 19, 2019 at the Dr. Robert C. Sy Grand Ballroom of the UST Paredes Building.

Spearheaded by the Philippine Society for Freshwater Science (PSFS), the summit was made possible through the cooperation of the University of Santo Tomas Department of Biological Sciences, University of the Philippines – Diliman Institute of Biology, National Fisheries Development and Research Institute, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Region 4A.

According to Tawilis Summit Organizing Committee Chair Prof. Rey Donne S. Papa, Ph.D., who also serves as Vice President of the PSFS and the Chair of the UST Department of Biological Sciences, “This summit aims to share to the general public the most recent scientific information on Sardinella tawilis and Lake Taal which led to the declaration of Sardinella tawilis as an endangered species according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).”

Tawilis, a freshwater sardine found exclusively in the Philippines, is the only known member of the genus Sardinella that can exist entirely in fresh water.

Keynote speaker Dr. Mudjekeewis Santos from the UST Graduate School, who is also an Academician of the National Academy of Science and Technology, presented “The IUCN assessment of Sardinella tawilis as an endangered species,” of which he is the main author.

Other speakers included: Dr. Maria Theresa M. Mutia, who tackled “Tawilis fishery reserves and spawning grounds”; Assoc. Prof. Dr. Jonas Quilang, who presented “Phylogeny of S. tawilis”; Assoc. Prof. Alicia Ely J. Pagulayan, who discussed “Reproductive biology of S. tawilis”; Prof. Rey Donne S. Papa, Ph.D., who talked about “Updates on the limno-ecological studies on Lake Taal”; and Atty. Ipat Luna, who explained “Management and conservation initiatives.”

A round table discussion followed with Prof. Roberto C. Pagulayan, Ph.D., as the rapporteur.
Discussants were: Asst. Prof. Dr. Francis Magbanua, Prof. Emeritus Dr. Macrina Zafaralla, Department of Environment and National Resources – 4A Regional Director Atty. Ma. Paz Luna, and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources – 4A Regional Director Wilfredo Cruz.
The whole-day event culminated with the reading of the PSFS Declaration, which summarized the key points of discussion from the various stakeholders and participants. From this summary, PSFS will come up with its official stand on the declaration of Sardinella tawilis as an endangered species, which will be submitted to the appropriate government agencies for their perusal.

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