Spain has banned fertilizer use near one of its bigger saltwater lagoons after 15 tons of dead fish washed up on its shores.
The environmental crisis in southeast Spain began over a week ago, when tons of dead fish washed up on the shore of Mar Menor in Murica over the span of 10 days.
According to El País, the fish had been asphyxiated due to lack of oxygen caused by the surge in nutrients from agricultural fertilizers.
In the region of Albujón, 30 million liters of fresh water and five tons of nutrients flow into the lagoon every day.
“This used to be crystal clear water, a coastal lagoon, with no nutrients, and look at it now,” Eulalia Rubio, a researcher, told El País, walking into the water in the Pino bay. The water is green as it engulfs her feet.
Whilst Murcia’s conservative regional government and Spain’s left-wing central government blame each other for the crisis, local protestors are attempting to bring further awareness into the issue.
They are hoping to obtain the 500,000 signatures required by the end of October in order to secure independent legal status for the Mar Menor. This would mean complex issues regarding the lagoon would be managed by a legal body without the interference of political bodies.
To help raise awareness, locals even took advantage of La Vuelta Ciclista, a Spanish televised annual multi-stage bicycle race, to hold signs regarding the environmental crisis when cyclists biked through the stretch between Santa Pola – La Manga. Signs held by protesters included “Solutions now”, “S.O.S Mar Menor” and “I live for Mar Menor”.
Thousands of protesters also formed a giant human chain along the shore of the lagoon on Saturday Aug. 28 to call for action.
In October 2019, a similar crisis occurred, when three tons of dead fish were removed from the shores. During that time, a major flood that brought in fresh water and contaminated sediments were combined with the already poor state of the lagoon.
The regional government has also mentioned that they wanted to drain the artificial canal Marchamalo as it is full of sediment. This canal connects the lagoon with the Mediterranean Sea, meaning that draining it may mean worsening the state of the already-contaminated Mediterranean Sea.
According to local newspaper Murcia Today, organisation ILP Mar Menor announced they will be planning to create a ‘human chain’ along the 73 kilometres of coastline on Saturday, Aug. 28. Their demonstration will aim to continue putting pressure on both regional and state governments to take responsibility for the deteriorating condition of Europe’s largest saltwater lagoon.