Mar Menor will take decades to restore former glory

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Eulalia Rubio Perez
"Save Mar Menor"

HOPES that the Mar Menor might begin to recover by summer have been dashed by a local ecology expert. Murcia professor, Miguel Angel Esteve, said there is zero chance that the iconic Costa Blanca lagoon will improve so quickly.

He described the optimism recently displayed by oceanographers as ‘reckless’. All the science points towards a recovery that will take decades, if it arrives at all, Angel told reporters on Tuesday February 28.

The Mar Menor is the largest coastal lagoon in Europe. Once a wildlife paradise and one of Murcia’s greatest attractions, ecological collapse due to pollution saw it described in December as a ‘desert of mud’.

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EWN has been consistently reporting on the lagoon’s rapid deterioration. In 2015 the waters first began to run green as they were overwhelmed by algae. Discharges and industrial-scale dumping from Cartagena’s numerous agricultural factories is the chief culprit.

Professor Angel, who teaches at the University of Murcia, denounced the failure of Costa Blanca authorities to take action. The ecological disaster has been predictable for at least 20 years he said, condemning politicians, agribusiness and scientists alike.

Recovery is only possible by completely halting the flow of nutrients to the lake bed. Even with absolutely no human interference the best case scenario is a wait of more than ten years while nature takes its course. A disastrous 85 per cent of vegetation has been destroyed by pollution.

Complicating the situation is the fact that Cartagena has an extra 20,000 hectares of land being irrigated that is permitted by law. The professor argues that at least 10 per cent of the current land used for agriculture must be diverted to improving the region’s green infrastructure.

That will involve a great deal of negotiation and compromise, something those responsible for this disaster have shown little capacity for. Time will tell whether the Mar Menor will come alive again. 

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