COLLEGE of Science Dean Rey Donne Papa said the eruption of Taal Volcano should be a wake-up call for the proper conservation and management of Taal Lake.

“[Taal volcano’s eruption] would definitely have an impact on the way the [plants and animals] would be interacting with each other and with the environment, which has been drastically altered,” Papa said in an interview with the Varsitarian.

“‘Yong pagputok ng bulkan is nature’s way of telling us [that] this is the best time to rethink how we do our conservation and management practices in Lake Taal,” he added.

It would be difficult, however, to implement lake conservation policies because of external factors like livelihood and economic development of those who reside in the area, he said.

“You are dealing with an active volcanic system, and therefore, you have to respect that,” he said.

On the afternoon of Jan. 12, Taal Volcano erupted after 43 years of dormancy, spewing ash that reached different areas in Calabarzon and Metro Manila.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology has since lowered the alert status of the volcano to Level 3, but wants to keep the volcano island off-limits.

“We can’t prevent [a volcanic eruption],” he said. “[There’s] no way to mitigate the effects except to just let it take its natural course,” Papa said.

Papa, a biologist, said new research could be done on the limnological characteristics of Taal Lake. Limnology is the study of freshwater ecosystems, Papa’s field of expertise.

For now, efforts should be focused on mitigating human actions that harm the lake and through regulation of aquaculture and control of wastewater discharge, he said.

Lake Taal is home to various endemic fish species including the tawilis, which was recently classified as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature in 2019 due to overfishing, lake pollution, and presence of invasive species.

Papa pointed out that the endangerment of the tawilis in the lake was not only caused by biological factors and natural disasters, but human practices as well.


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