Monday, 30 August 2021

The Fog


Such a hot summer. As we slide into September one story that has saddened the Spanish is the apparent death of the Mar Menor, the Murcian inland sea that is cuffed on the Mediterranean side by the La Manga resort. This ecological tragedy would appear to be due to the run-offs of fertilizer – nitrates and phosphates – into the saltwater lagoon, poisoning all the creatures that live there.

It’s been on the cards since 2016, when the waters suddenly turned brown and fish and plant-life began to die. Without light reaching the bottom, the algae expires. Without algae producing oxygen, the fish die.

There are endless ‘illegal’ farms surrounding the water and – as often happens – more effort is spent on blame than on resolution. The provincial authorities blame the national government rather than simply policing the area and closing down all the surrounding farms who allow ‘spillage’. In reality, the Statute of Autonomy puts the entire responsibility on the maintenance of the Mar Menor with the Murcian regional government.

There are 8,500 hectares of illegal farms on the 63kms of shoreline that circles the Mar Menor says the WWF. But, farmers are voters too…

There have, in point of fact, been over 200 denuncias in the past year for farmers fouling the lagoon, but none of them have been resolved.

And how about the effect of a stricken Mar Menor on the local tourism? Besides apartments, holiday homes and so on, there are 11,000 hotel beds in La Manga. The head of the regional tourist federation says that bookings are down to nothing and next year looks bad. He also says, "All this has been caused solely and exclusively by the lack of political action. The neighbourhood and business associations have been demanding a solution for the Mar Menor for years. But nobody has done anything". 

As the agriculture has intensified – thanks in part to the extra water from the Tagus/Segura pipeline – so has the resort. Compare these two photographs taken ‘before and after’.

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