Wouldn’t it be great to enjoy the glory of Taal Volcano and its lake even after years and years have passed? As the present generation, we have a responsibility to preserve the important ecological landmarks around us. Only we have the power to keep this volcano and rich freshwater lake in their same pristine conditions, for future generations to appreciate.
A picturesque tourist attraction, Taal Volcano and its lake holds an interesting geological history and is encompassed by rare biodiversity. While we take pride in this world-renowned tourist attraction, the fresh waters of Taal Lake and the vast caldera formation of Taal Volcano are facing alarming environmental issues that drastically threaten the biodiversity within it.
Freshwater Lake at Risk
As the country’s third largest lake, Taal Lake houses an extensive watershed that borders Batangas and Cavite provinces, including the famous tourist destination, Tagaytay City. The freshwater lake flows within 38 small rivers and streams. Surrounding lakeshore communities and their fisher folk depend greatly on these bodies of water for the marine life they carry. The lake is threatened by overexploitation through overfishing, unregulated aquaculture, waste pollution from neighboring dumpsites, sewage discharge systems, and increasing real estate development projects.
Pollution Due to Unregulated Aquaculture
Taal Lake is home to a plethora of rare fauna and endemic marine species. These species include the Hydrophis semperi, a freshwater seasnake, as well as the Sardinella tawilis, a freshwater sardine. The presence of these species make the lake a preferred host for aquaculture. Unfortunately, unregulated fish cages combined with improper solid waste disposal in the lake pose extinction threats for these species.
A little known fact, commercial fish feed for tilapia is fortified with chicken manure treated with antibiotics to keep the fish alive in polluted waters. These commercial fish feed are loaded with gene-altering hormones to make the fish grow quickly. These artificial pollutants merge with groundwater while 40% of these remain as leftover feeds at the bottom of the lake. There are currently already 10,000 fish pens submerged in the lake. If the growth of these fish pens are unregulated, there is a high chance that these pens would overcrowd the lake in the coming years. The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) reports that the number of fish cages is 30-45% beyond the lake’s ideal carrying capacity.
Another alarming dilemma that Taal Lake faced early this year was a sulfur upwelling that triggered a massive fish kill affecting the Talisay area. Presently, increasing large scale tilapia and bangus (milkfish) farming have been known to cause the gradual decline and potential extinction of two fish species that are exclusively found in the lake, the maliputo (jackfish) and tawilis.
Laws Governing the Preservation of the World-Famous Taal Lake
The government offers its fair share of support through laws and policies that help safeguard the surrounding Taal Lake and Volcano environment. At the same time, these laws protect rights and create awareness of these issues that plague nearby Batangas communities.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) collaborated with AGHAM party-list Representative Angelo Palmones and the Court of Appeals to approve a memorandum of agreement stating that local folk are now permitted to use fish cages so long as they do not violate its healthy carrying capacity. The agreement strictly enforces the implementation of clearances covering eco-friendly projects under the National Integrated Protected Area Systems (NIPAS) Act of 92.
The lake was decreed as a protected area in 1996 under the NIPAS Act. The Protected Area Management Board together with Task Force Taal Lake also plays a pivotal role in preventing environmental destruction and promoting ecosystem preservation. The board issues policies against solid waste disposal and sewage/wastewater discharge from nearby real estate developments and local piggeries.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) also works closely with the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and BFAR in the rigorous monitoring of lakewater quality and fish kill prevention.
Non-Government Organizations Advocating Taal Volcano and Lake Conservation
Organizations like Pusod Pilipinas, The Ecosystem Alliance, Tanggol Kalikasan, and The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), among others, are solidly committed to serve as instruments in various research studies. These organizations draft rules for environmental protection and biodiversity monitoring. Pusod Pilipinas particularly reinforces the people’s organization, Kilusan ng Maliliit na Mangingisda sa Lawa ng Taal, which recognizes Taal Lake as an Associate Lake in the Living Lakes Network.
Club Balai Isabel on “Practicing What We Preach”
Club Balai Isabel not only boasts of an unobstructed, panoramic view of the splendid Taal Volcano and its tranquil lake but also supports active civic and environmental efforts. These efforts include recycling initiatives and the use of recyclables in the resort as part of our unwavering commitment to preserve our natural surroundings.
Club Balai Isabel takes pride in sharing our own little slice of paradise all year round to locals and vacationers from across the globe. We aim to uphold the same vision toward environment conservation and nature appreciation.