Commercially Important Coral Reef Fishes of Tawi-Tawi

Published: 28 March 2024| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/fxdphtkwt2.1
Richard Muallil,


From Muallil et al., 2020: "Species inventory was conducted by opportunistically visiting the public market (“tabuh”) and fish warehouses (“bodega”) in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi at least twice a month from October 2015 to December 2018 (Fig. 2). The public market is the only wet market in Bongao where common foodfish are sold. High value and live reef fishes are usually brought by fishers to fish warehouses or “bodega”. According to the warehouse owners/operators, fishes sold here come from nearby municipalities such as Simunul, Panglima Sugala, Sapa-Sapa, Tandubas, South Ubian and Languyan. Fishes from the farther Sibutu and Sitangkai municipalities are also reportedly brought to fish warehouses in Bongao. Fish at the warehouses are mostly shipped out of Tawi-Tawi by boat to Zamboanga City. Local buyers can also buy fish from the fish warehouses but at higher price than those at the public market. There are also anecdotal accounts of traders from Malaysia coming to TawiTawi or traders from Tawi-Tawi going to Malaysia to buy or sell fish, respectively. Bongao, Tawi-Tawi is less than five hours away by boat from the coast of Sabah, Malaysia. According to fish vendors and traders, all their fish were caught exclusively from the waters of TawiTawi as it would be impractical for fishers/traders from Malaysia and other provinces to bring their fish to Tawi-Tawi considering the distance and the relatively low market value of fish in Tawi-Tawi. All the surveys were conducted during daytime, mostly during the peak hours of the market from 7:00 to 11:00 in the morning. Sometimes, we proceeded to the warehouses to continue the surveys. However, fishes in the warehouses were not openly accessible for researchers as the fish are kept inside storage boxes. We could only do the surveys while the fish were still outside the boxes usually when fishers from nearby islands delivered their fish or when the traders sorted the fish in preparation for shipping. With the permission of the vendors, each fish was put on its lateral side and photographed from the top just high enough to capture the entire length of the specimen. Species identification was done using the following references, namely, Allen et al. (2003), Allen and Erdmann (2012), Gonzales (2013) and White et al. (2013). The names of the species were validated from Eschmeyer’s Catalog of Fishes online ( and their conservation status was determined from the IUCN Redlist of Threatened Species website ("



Mindanao State University Tawi-Tawi College of Technology and Oceanography


Coral Reef, Coastal Fisheries