ACTIVISTS, locals, fishing organisations and trades people have gathered outside Murcia’s regional government building to protest against what they claimed was environmental damage being done to the Mar Menor lagoon.
The Pact for the Mar Menor group, an umbrella organisation of campaigners with more than 1,000 members, organised the protest to coincide with World Environment Day last Tuesday.
Isabel Rubio, a co-ordinator from the group, spoke with Euro Weekly News ahead of the protest.
She said the group were calling on authorities to draw up measures to stop the pollution of the lagoon.
“If we want to save the Mar Menor an integral law has to be drawn up. A law which takes into account all the impacts, threats and pressures this coastal lagoon gets from intensive agriculture, construction, old unsealed mines and urban waste,” she said.
Rubio added the salt water lagoon was the “most emblematic” natural site in Murcia.
“As well as its important ecological value, this salty lagoon has historical, cultural, geographic and economic value.”
“Fishing and tourism are a source of wealth for the inhabitants of the area,” she said.
Rubio said that since the 1970’s large amounts of water entering the Mar Menor from farming irrigation had upset the ecological balance of the lagoon.
“If people were aware of this ecosystem’s value where threatened fish and bird species live and of its national and international protection status they would fight for the Mar Menor.”
“Regional authorities should ensure they not only protect agricultural interests but also ecological interests and those of all the economic sectors connected with the lagoon,” she said.
Rubio said the group had organised the protest to put pressure on authorities to take the necessary measures to improve water in the lagoon.
“The regional and national government should be vigilant in making sure current laws are followed while also working to draw up the integral law we have asked for,” she said.
“We’ll continue working in this way until the water recovers its past clarity and until agricultural waste stops reaching the lagoon,” she said.
Angel Perez-Ruzafa, a professor at the University of Murcia and a member of the advisory committee for the Mar Menor, said the lagoon could self-recover due to its ecological makeup.
“If there is no dredging or indiscriminate dumping, it will recover. But if urgent measures are not taken we will lose it irredeemably,” he said.
The Mar Menor has an area of 135 kilometres squared and it is home to a variety of fish and plant species.