The Mar Menor continues in its agonizing state and, after ten days of squabbling over the competencies over the lagoon, national and regional political forces seem to want to align themselves in favor of its recovery. The meeting of the third vice president and Minister of Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera, and the president of the Murcia Region, Fernando López Miras, has made it possible to outline an apparent agreement to carry out joint measures to save the lagoon. An obvious change of third after the regional government has denied the new episode of anoxia and then has done everything possible to exonerate itself of its responsibility for the state of the natural environment with analyzes and proposals without scientific support.
Ten days of anoxia in the Mar Menor: “You can’t bathe in the rotten smell of dead fish”
The high temperatures
The appearance of the first dead fish on Friday, August 13, set off all the alarms. Ecological platforms approached the affected areas of the lagoon to denounce the situation. A few days later, a technician from the Ministry of the Environment assured that the death episode had been caused by “high temperatures”, an argument in which the regional government hid and which was refuted by the Oceanographic Institute, which did not rule out a possible anoxia and pollution in the Mar Menor. The Murcian administration assured that the oxygen values were correct. His justification was that otherwise “it would have affected many more species”.
After denying the anoxia bag, the Executive launched an offensive against the Minister of Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera, and announced that they would denounce her for her “inaction and lack of application of measures in favor of the protection and recovery of the Mar Menor, and after his decision to abandon it, allowing 30,000 cubic meters of fresh water and 5,857 kilos of nutrients to enter the ecosystem every day “. The complaint has not been substantiated, for now.
Balls out: open the channel to oxygenate the lagoon
Five days later, the Community itself released a video of the lagoon in which you can see an anoxia bag that apparently tries to exit towards the Mediterranean through the Marchamalo gorge, a channel that connects both bodies of water. The Murcian administration used this audiovisual piece as an argument to carry out one of its most controversial measures: opening the canal to allow the lagoon to oxygenate. A proposal that López Miras launched in his first appearance after five days of daily death of marine species in the natural environment. The initiative must be approved at the state level, but it is only supported by the Mar Menor monitoring committee, which depends on the Ministry of the Environment, while it is widely criticized by independent scientists. The Official College of Biologists of the Region issued a statement accusing the opening of Marchamalo of “recklessness and action contrary to all scientific evidence”. The biologists expressed their “deep concern” and recalled that “as long as intensive irrigated agriculture exists, the nutrients will inevitably end up in the Mar Menor.”
The game of competitions
López Miras also demanded the transfer of the powers of the coast and basins concerning the Mar Menor, since he claimed to be with “hands tied” to apply policies in favor of the lagoon, a request that he called a “forceful step forward.” The minister described the request as “nonsense and a smokescreen”, and snapped at the Murcian president that “he has plenty of powers to do what he has to do”
Five days later, the regional executive announced that it will prohibit the use of inorganic nitrogen fertilizers in the so-called ‘zone 1’ of the Mar Menor, which affects land in the municipalities of San Pedro del Pinatar, San Javier, Los Alcázares and La Unión. It also undertook to halve the administrative deadlines for processing disciplinary proceedings, necessary to restore illegal irrigated land.
Empty the aquifer
The head of the Murcian Executive came to ask for the emptying of the aquifer that runs towards the Mar Menor –at national competence–, and assured that “it is already contaminated, because it has 300,000 tons of nitrates of the last decades of activity. “” As long as this is not done, thousands and thousands of kilos of nitrates will continue to arrive every day in the Mar Menor, “said the Murcian president in an interview in Public Mirror, and assured that the discharges” do not arrive of agricultural companies; The regulations of the Region prevent the crops from spilling into the lagoon and the illegal wells that used to do so are sealed by the Civil Guard. ”
Meeting with Ribera and creation of a commission
Finally, the president of Murcia met with Teresa Ribera, the Minister of Ecological Transition, with the aim of parking differences. And so it was, apparently. Although they recognized that there are “discrepancies” in the order of priorities, they agreed that there is much more agreement on the overall vision that advances towards the end of the discharge of water with nutrients in the Mar Menor.
According to Ribera, who proposed meetings every six months, “the technical dialogue in agriculture, environment and water has to be very fluid between the different competent administrations and when the technicians detect a problem, they have to communicate it, because there is a will to solve it” .
“The conviction of the emergency that we had before us has made us reinforce many things, sometimes with the frustration of finding ourselves with something that did not allow us to continue moving forward, and today we have taken a very important step to ensure that the rules are applied”, added the minister. Ribera applauded the regional ban on the use of inorganic nitrogen fertilizers in the area of direct influence in the lagoon and the reduction by half of all administrative deadlines in the processing of disciplinary proceedings in its area.
However, the minister ruled out as “outdated” the Zero Discharge Plan that López Miras has been demanding for several days – within national jurisdiction – which only provides for actions in a closed circuit and does not introduce correction variables at source, although it has indicated that some of its measurements can be retaken by resizing them.
On the other hand, the Minister of Ecological Transition did acknowledge that in addressing the 8,500 illegal hectares scattered around the salty lagoon, not only the Community has the last word as it does not have the ability to cut off the supply mouths of the crops. and announced meetings next week with the irrigation communities. Ribera also proposed to buy land or reach agreements with landowners in the area closest to the Mar Menor environment to create a green filter zone and mitigate the arrival of nitrates into the sea.