The deterioration of the Mar Menor is the result of years of inaction on the part of the Murcia government, says the Minister in Madrid
The Spanish government announced on Tuesday August 24 that “catastrophe zones” are to be declared in 13 of the 17 regions of Spain in response to the wildfires which have affected farmland and forests throughout the country this year, but at the same time clarified that the pleas made by the regional government of Murcia for the Mar Menor to be included in the same category have been disregarded.
Fernando López Miras, the president of the Murcia government, publicly requested that the Mar Menor be awarded “catastrophe zone” status in order for central government funding to be supplied to help local businesses affected by the deterioration of the lagoon and for money to be made available for projects related to the Mar Menor, where over the last ten days the deterioration of the marine environment has become so critical that a pocket of anoxic water (lacking in oxygen) has led to hundreds of thousands of dead fish and crustaceans washing ashore on the beaches.
Explaining the decision, the national executive reiterates that the current situation in the Mar Menor is not the consequence of the events of “a day, or a weekend”. Instead, the argument runs, it is the product of failings in the way that the regional government of Murcia has failed to take on its responsibility to protect the environment over a number of years, and that this is a question not of a disagreement between the two administrations but of a failure on the part of the Murcia government to carry out its role.
A statement made by government spokeswoman Isabel Rodríguez refers to the “years of inaction and tolerance of actions which are harmful to the environment” of the Mar Menor. Sra Rodríguez went on to state that each government must assume its responsibilities and that the one in Murcia has failed to implement appropriate punitive actions against the agricultural activity which now results in an estimated 4,000 tons of nutrients per day making their way into the lagoon from the farmland of the Campo de Cartagena.
According to the Minister, the Seprona wildlife protection wing of the Guardia Civil and the CHS water infrastructures management body have passed on 800 reports of illegal farming and irrigation activity to the regional government, but no action has been taken.
At the same time, Sra Rodríguez points out that the Spanish government has declared the aquifer beneath the Campo de Cartagena to be in a state of “chemical risk” but has not received the support of the Murcia government.
On Wednesday the national Minister for Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera, is scheduled to visit the Mar Menor to see for herself the current condition of the lagoon.
In response, members of the Murcia government have been quick to attribute the decision to political differences and to an attempt to “attack the Region”, in the words of Miriam Guardiola of the Murcia PP party. Sra Guardiola claims that the central government’s arguments are “false” and mere “excuses” for not supplying help to a part of the country where, she says, the conditions meet those specified in the Constitution for the declaration of a catastrophe zone: namely, material or personal damage or the halting of all or some essential public services.
Meanwhile, Sra Guardiola’s colleague in the regional government, Antonio Luengo, claims that by now there should not be a single square metre of illegal irrigation in the area around the Mar Menor, and if this is not the case then it is the fault of the CHS and the Ministry for Ecological Transition.
Yet again, then, the priority for many of the politicians involved appears to be to point the finger of blame at someone else, but in the meantime the colour of the water in many parts of the Mar Menor continues to range from brown to black, the stench of putrefying fish is ensuring that few people if any venture onto the beaches and the entire ecosystem appears to be on the verge of collapse.
Images: regional government of Murcia, Pacto por el Mar Menor, ANSE, @Albinegros17
Source: Murcia Today