Buhi’s tabios—world’s smallest edible fish still suffers excessive predation

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Despite protective ordinances to help tabios thrive, the smallest edible fish in the world (Mistithys luzonensis) is still threatened by extinction in Camarines Sur. Also known as sinarapan, the fish is still under strain in its natural habitat in Lake Buhi because of over-grazing and changes in its fresh-water home.

“Ronilo H. Leal, lake management officer of Buhi town local government unit (LGU), pointed out to the rampant use of motorized post nets in the 1980s which he said totally banished the sinarapan from Lake Buhi in the 1980s.

Going by the 10 percent fish-cage occupation required by the zoning provision of RA 8550, the proliferation of fish cages here have exceeded what the law requires, occupying some 20 percent of the 1,800-ha area of Lake Buhi (located 300 ft. above sea level), according to Leal. —-Bicol Mail (02/05/09, Escandor J. Jr; Davila, J. R.)

Aside from excessive hunting by local fishermen in Buhi, Camarines Sur, the construction of fish cages to raise commercial tilapia altered fish habitat, decreasing and crowding the small tabios. The edible goby which measures about 10 mm. and inhabits the 18-hectare lake in Bicol is a delicacy in the area. It also thrives in adjacent fresh water sanctuaries like Lake Bato, Manapao and Katugday.

Sinarapan almost disappeared in the 1980s and the local government resorted to setting free tabios fries on the lake to augment its population. Though the program had been so far partially successful, excessive fish harvest persisted. Natural predation by other fish species continued to pose problems against the fish survival.

Collective effort to save the fish is on going, but unless measures to protect sinarapan are implemented, extinction (though conservation urgency is low at this time,) is still possible. (Photo Credit: Nindy2008; Lake Buhi, PD x2) =0=

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