NGOs Take Action Against Spain Over Mar Menor “Ecological Disaster”

This footage shows the shocking levels of pollution in the Mar Menor saltwater lagoon in southern Spain that the government has allegedly been ignoring for the past five years.

The Menor Mar has been turned into a soup of eutrophication with dead fish littering its banks and algae blooms blocking the sunlight from hitting the seabed.

The salt water lagoon is located off the coast of the Autonomous Community of Murcia and has been hitting the headlines in Spain for several months as pollution levels reached unprecedented levels.

NGOs filed a formal complaint against the Spanish government for its alleged failure to take action and protect Mar Menor from “harmful agricultural practices” on Wednesday, 6th October.

ClientEarth and Ecologistas en Accion (Ecologists in Action) called on the EU Commission to “initiate immediate action against Spain at a time when harmful agricultural practices are pushing the lagoon to the brink of ecological collapse”.

The Association of Naturalists of the Southeast (ANSE) and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) released footage of the pollution which shows how the situation has worsened since 2016.

The footage highlights how murky the water has become, which is something the NGOs attribute to the eutrophication that has been caused by agricultural run-off.

Eutrophication is the process by which an entire body of water, or parts of it, becomes progressively enriched with minerals and nutrients.

This eventually leads to algal blooms that can cause substantial ecological degradation as it saps oxygen from the water.

Without sunlight and oxygen, the vegetation dies which impacts the food chain resulting in the death of all different types of organisms.

In the footage, conservationists are seen standing ankle-deep in piles of decomposing dead fish on beaches littered with plastic.

However, the president of the Autonomous Community, the Minister of Agriculture, and several scientific advisors have assured the public that “Mar Menor is better than ever”.

As a diver passes through the murky water the Spanish subtitles read: “I thought they said Mar Menor has never been better?”

The pollution is not only a threat to wildlife, but also to the local population, many of whom depend on the lagoon for income.

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) stated that 50,000 jobs in the region were under threat as a direct result of the pollution.

The ITUC’s prediction could be devastating to a region that has seen its economy hammered by COVID-19’s impact on tourism.

ANSE and WWF took part in the Demonstration in Defence of Mar Menor in Murcia on Thursday, 7th October.

The organisations hope that, with enough pressure from the public and the EU, the government will be forced to introduce regulations to protect the lagoon.