CM – Thousands gather to « hug » Spain’s dying Mar Menor lagoon

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August 28, 2021

Tens of thousands of people formed a human chain around the troubled Mar Menor lagoon in Spain on Saturday to show sorrow after tons of dead fish washed ashore, organizers and officials said.

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The Mar Menor, one of the largest saltwater lagoons in Europe, has long been a draw for tourists but is slowly dying from the effects of agricultural pollution. Millions of fish and crustaceans have died in the past two weeks.

Images of dead fish have traumatized this southeastern coastal region, locals and tourists have joined in the mass mourning.

Footage from the scene showed huge queues of people, many in beach clothes, along the promenade of Alcazares beach, the stretching over six kilometers, holding another part of the 73-kilometer coast of the lagoon by the hands.

« It was an act of mourning over the death of the animals … we wanted people to somehow ask for forgiveness for the barbarism we have inflicted on them, » Jesus Cutillas, one of the organizers, told AFP / p> « For days we have seen the deaths of millions and millions of fish and see how much unnecessary death hurts.

 » The goal was to express our regret for what happened and to show our determination that it never will happens again. « 

Experts say the fish suffocated due to a lack of oxygen released into the waters from hundreds of tons of nitrate from fertilizers, causing a phenomenon called eutrophication that is collapsing aquatic ecosystems.

On Monday, regional officials said they removed 4.5-5.0 tons of fish, but by Saturday the number had tripled to 15 tons of fish and algae.

« The 15 tons of dead fish and biomass (removed from shore ) show that this is actually an environmental disaster and an emergency. We need immediate help for the ecosystem, ”tweeted Noelia Arroyo, mayor of the nearby city of Cartagena.

Pedro Garcia, director of the regional conservation organization ANSE, said this week that environmental groups feared the death toll in the sea was more than double what the authorities said Monday.

« Within that 15-ton number there will certainly be at least two or three tons of dead vegetation, but we can’t be sure, » he told AFP on Saturday.

In the lagoon, Environment Minister Teresa Ribera accused the regional government on Wednesday of ignoring the irregularities in agriculture in Campo de Cartagena, a huge area of ​​intensive agriculture that has increased tenfold over the past 40 years.

But agricultural groups insist that they scrupulously comply with environmental laws.

© 2021 AFP

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