The Vice President and Minister for the Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge, Teresa Ribera, has visited the Mar Menor to address first-hand solutions for the anoxic crisis that is taking thousands of marine species in the salt lagoon. During the morning, the minister met with members of the SOS Mar Menor Platform in the Canal del Estacio, which connects the Mar Menor with the Mediterranean, and the surroundings of the Puerto Mayor. He has also held talks with the mayors of the different municipalities that share the coast with the lagoon. At 3:00 p.m. a meeting with the president of the Region of Murcia, Fernando López Miras, is scheduled at the Palacio de San Esteban, seat of the regional government.
“The main harmed by this problem are the inhabitants of Campo de Cartagena, farmers who comply with all its regulations and businessmen in this land and residents of neighboring towns,” said Teresa Ribera after meeting with the mayors of the Mar Menor . Ribera stressed that the scientific community speaks of “the permanent contribution of fertilizers beyond what the ecosystem is capable of supporting”, while recalling that “we are far behind schedule”. “You cannot cover a few who do not allow others to live off their land, their fields and their fishing. You cannot look the other way,” said the minister.
“The Government of the Region of Murcia has announced a year late the adoption of regulations to limit nitrogen fertilizers and increase that control strip to 1,500 meters to give the Mar Menor a break.” Ribera has urged the regional government to shorten the deadlines to carry out sanctioning procedures for illegal irrigation “which are long overdue.” The minister has insisted that there is an area of 8,000 hectares “without adequate title for irrigation.”
“It is possible that it will be necessary to buy farms in the 1,500-meter strip that surrounds the Mar Menor to prevent nitrates from reaching,” said the third vice president.
“We have to work on the origin of the problem”
Ribera recalled his visit during the first anoxia of the lagoon in October 2019 after the DANA that devastated the Region. “So we reinforced our commitment to the Mar Menor: in the declaration of the aquifer, with the investments in the Rambla del Albujón, in the desalination plant and aid in flood areas, but we have to work on the origin of the problem.” “We have witnessed unfortunate controversies and it is very important to have transparent information on these complex realities,” he added.
“It is very frustrating to work hard and the result is not visible because the last stage is not completed. I trust that the regional government will change its attitude,” said Ribera, who expressed his intention to meet with agricultural associations and businessmen next week and apologized “publicly” for not meeting them on this occasion.
The minister has also made reference to the “contradictory” statements made on the crisis of the lagoon by the Murcian president: “López Miras has asked for more powers when he has more than enough, while he has been looking for a level of skills for us that neither corresponds to us. Each one of us has to act with the utmost diligence and commitment, “the third vice-president declared.
The president of the Region of Murcia, Fernando López Miras, for his part, has indicated that he faces this meeting with “the will to collaborate, joint work and outstretched hand” with the aim of solving “a question of State, as in his day it was that of the Prestige, which obtained resources from the central government to alleviate its consequences. ” The Government of the Region of Murcia will ask the Ministry, among other things, to lower the level of the quaternary aquifer that flows into the Mar Menor, an “urgent” measure that is included in the Zero Dumping Project approved three years ago.
Control over “illegal irrigation” and link “political figure”
Around ten in the morning, Ribera has exchanged a few words with Antonio Manzanera, notary in support of the Popular Legislative Initiative (ILP) so that the Mar Menor has legal personality, who has asked the leader to “save” the lagoon. “We have been monitoring for three years to locate where illegalities could be taking place and seeing how to intervene to unload the pressure on the Mar Menor,” said Ribera, who has also criticized that the regional government did not finish carrying out the pertinent sanctions on the entities that pollute the Mar Menor.
The minister thanked the neighbors who have asked more vehemently for solutions to the crisis that the lagoon is experiencing: “Obviously, that makes the institutions sensitive, although for a long time they have been ‘lazy’.” Ribera has admitted that the situation is going “for a long time.” “It is a lot of anguish, seeing this like this gives a lot of courage,” said the minister.
The director of the Association of Naturalists of the Southeast (ANSE), Pedro García, stressed that this is the second time that the minister has accompanied the ecologists in the lagoon to learn about the problem “first hand.” From ANSE they consider that the level of eutrophication in the lagoon is “very high” and that expectations “for the future are not good at all.”
The ecologists have also demanded that the minister study the proposal to arbitrate a monitoring commission of the state of the Mar Menor with representatives of all the administrations, scientists and environmental platforms, as well as a liaison “political figure” who may be a valid interlocutor between the different administrations. “The main harmed by this problem are the inhabitants of Campo de Cartagena, the farmers who comply with all its regulations and businessmen of this land, the neighbors of the neighboring towns,” said Teresa Ribera after meeting with the coastal mayors of the Mar Menor. And we must respect three principles: understanding scientific knowledge, which speak of the permanent contribution of fertilizers beyond what the ecosystem is capable of supporting, we must give space and time for the ecosystem to recover, we are late, second basic principle, respect for the law, for fear of the application of the law, coverage cannot be given to a few who do not allow others to live off their land, their fields, their fishing, you cannot look to On the other and third, social participation is very important.
On these three premises it is easier to understand each other from the efforts of the different administrations within our powers. Murcia region government with a year delay (but I appreciate it) has announced the adoption of regulations to limit nitrogen fertilizers and increase that control strip to 1500 meters, to give a break to the lower sea. It is an interesting move. Also provide deadlines for sanctioning procedures that are long overdue, 400, 200 of which are already in court. Surface of 8 thousand hectares without adequate title for irrigation.
“The Ministry is working on concrete measures, although most competences belong to the regional administration. It is unavoidable to involve the agricultural sector of the Cartagena countryside,” said Lucía Martínez, a member of Ecologists in Action who also participated in the meeting with Ribera . “A permanent work of control is necessary to force the disappearance of illegal irrigation”, he added.
According to Julia Martínez, coordinator of Ecologists in Action, the associations have requested “an alternative” included in the Environmental Heritage Law of 2007. The norm “contemplates a Spanish catalog of habitats in danger of extinction and, if the Mar Menor enters in that category, there would be many more protocols for control, “said the scientist. “The lagoon needs an environmental protection figure such as that of a natural or environmental park, since this would force the regional government to make an environmental resource management plan within a short period of six months.”
Crossing of accusations
This Tuesday there was an exchange of accusations regarding the situation in the lagoon between the central and regional governments. The spokesperson for the Government of Pedro Sánchez, Isabel Rodríguez, said at a press conference that the situation in the lagoon “is not the result of a weekend”, but is about “many years of inaction and permissiveness” of the Government of Murcia .
The Murcian Government, for its part, denied that there were 800 files without processing in relation to the protection of the Mar Menor: “It is flatly false that there is a neglect of the exercise of the Community’s powers in this matter, as it has said today the Government spokesperson, Isabel Rodríguez, after the Council of Ministers was held “. From the regional government they said that “they have open 113 files for restitution of illegal irrigation, on a total area of 2,130 hectares. This is the total of files received from the Segura Hydrographic Confederation, so there is no order without processing” .