Indonesian government wants fish cages removed from biggest lake in Southeast Asia to boost tourism

Amazing view: Lake Toba is so huge that it actually looks like an ocean.(ANN/The Star/Allison Lai). Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.


JAKARTA, Jul 17, 2019, The Jakarta Post. The government aims to clear Lake Toba of floating net cages (KJA) companies and individuals use for breeding fish because they are damaging the environment and polluting the lake water. The government demanded the North Sumatra governor and regents nearby to clear the biggest lake in Southeast Asia of KJA, reported The Jakarta Post.

Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Binsar Panjaitan said the government’s stance is clear: Lake Toba must be free of any KJA and it wanted the “Zero KJA Movement”, which was initiated several years ago, to be realized as soon as possible by the governor and regents near the lake.

“We want zero KJA for Lake Toba; the governor will lead [the movement],” Luhut said after inaugurating a ride-hailing service at Kualanamu International Airport on Thursday.

Luhut said that foreign tourists would not come to the lake if it is not completely cleared of KJA by the local administrations since the lake water has been polluted by fish pellets from the net cages. The situation would be a bad advertisement for tourism at Lake Toba, he said.

“Lake Toba is a favorite tourism spot prioritized by the government; the pollution will be our loss. That is why we need to work together in cleaning Lake Toba so that the tourism [industry] could improve in the future,” Luhut told reporters.

“It is not right to throw pig feces into the lake. Regents, please help by telling locals to not throw domestic waste away in Lake Toba,” he said.

Luhut criticized the local administration for ignoring the problem of water pollution in Lake Toba, saying he suspected some officials may have received bribes from companies that own the cages.

Luhut said that Lake Toba has potential tourism industry that must be utilized in order to strengthen local economy. “This is a golden opportunity for the governor, I will support what he is about to do [advancing North Sumatra tourism industry].”

Separately, North Sumatra Governor Edy Rahmayadi said he is ready to solve the environmental issues of Lake Toba, adding that he already sent a formal letter to Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar regarding the problems.

“Lake Toba was created by God for its beauty but not for KJA business,” Edy said on Friday.

Edy said he would communicate with the central government about Lake Toba’s environmental problem so that the desire to clean the lake could be realized.

In February, the North Sumatran administration through its Environmental Agency imposed administrative sanctions on PT Aquafarm Nusantara for polluting the lake. The administration found that it had breached the production capacity limit and violated waste management regulations.

The company said it has worked to comply with the regulations.

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