Facts & Figures
The heritage town of Taal is located in the northwestern part of the province of Batangas, about 131 kilometers distance from Manila via Tagaytay City. (Latitude 13°53’00”N and Longitude 120°56’00”E)
It is located along the Pansipit River, the main outlet of Taal Lake to Balayan Bay. Taal Volcano is located within Taal Lake.
The municipality of Taal has a total land area of 2,976 hectares, consisting of 42 barangays spread along a mixture of hills and slopes. Barangay Butong is the only barangay located along the coast of Balayan Bay.
The first census in 1903 recorded a total population of 17,525. The 2007 population is 41,352 growing at 2.33% annually, with 7,961 households.
Taal has two seasons: dry from November to April, and wet during the rest of the year. The lowest minimum temperature does not drop below 20 degrees centigrade while the highest maximum temperature of 24.5 degrees centigrade occurs from March to July of each year.
Fresh Water Resources: Pansipit River
A dominant feature of the province of Batangas is Taal Lake. It covers an area of 270 square km. and is drained by Pansipit River down into Balayan Bay. Pansipit is one of the major ecological highways that allow migration of two fish species: maliputo (cranx ignobilis) and muslo (cranx marginalis) which are unique to lake Taal. Adult fish migrate to the sea from Taal Lake via Pansipit River and Palanas River in Lemery. The tawilis (harengula tawilis) is a freshwater sardine also endemic to Taal lake.
Thomas Hargrove, author of the book, “The Mysteries of Taal”, mentions that, “Lake Taal abounds with marine life that shouldn’t be there, the “maliputo”, a mackarel, and “tawilis”, one of the world’s only fresh water sardines. Both of which has adapted to the fresh waters of Taal Lake since the days it was salt water.”
MANILA, Philippines — Maliputo, a fish that belongs to the talakitok (trevally) family, is a rare delicacy from Taal Lake.
Taal Lake was once just an arm of Balayan Bay, but after a series of major eruptions in the l8th century, the lake’s sole connection to the sea narrowed down into its only draining river, the Pansipit River.
Several centuries of precipitation have changed the lake’s once salty waters into freshwater.
Because the lake was until recently connected to the sea, it is home to many endemic species that have evolved and adapted to the desalination of the lake’s waters. Dalag, biya, ayungin, and the most popular but overharvested tawilis, the world’s only freshwater sardine.
The lake also has a freshwater-adapted population of trevally, maliputo (Caranx ignobilis). The maliputo fish that grows in Balayan Bay are able to negotiate the Pansipit River and adapt to a freshwater environment, where the presence of plankton and highly sulfuric water makes their flesh a tasty delight.
Alas, overfishing has taken their toll. Maliputo thrived in abundance until overfishing made it rare, although not endangered. Malipuito fetches from R300 to R500 a kilo.
Thanks to the pioneering attemptsof dedicated scientists and personnel from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), attempts have been a success in inducing maliputo to breed in captivity.
Maris M. Mutia, an aquaculturist and her team of 22 committed staff, are laboring in anonymity in a 2.5-hectare fish farm, called the National Fisheries Biological Center in Butong, Taal, Batangas, by the mouth of the Pansipit River. Here, several fish cages of maliputo are in various stages of growth.
Mutia, a zoology graduate with a master’s degree in environmental science from the University of the Philippines, was able to breed maliputo in 2006, “a first in the country if not in the world,” according to BFAR Director Malcolm Sarmiento.
The maliputo project is part of the government’s strategy to broaden its aquaculture base to increase food production and food security, Sarmiento added.
The BFAR inaugurated a R5-million laboratory facility last month at the NFBC to help speed up the spread of maliputo as a high-value fish with commercial potentials.