Anti-pollution protests in Spain as thousands of dead fish wash up on lagoon

Around 20 tonnes of dead fish have washed up on the shored of a saltwater lagoon in Spain, the largest in Europe, due to excessive pollution.

Around 20 tonnes of dead fish have washed up on the shored of a saltwater lagoon in Spain, the largest in Europe, which has sparked protests against the deteriation of our environment. Local prosecutors have also opened an investigation due to excessive pollution causing algae.

The Mar Menor in Murcia, on Spain’s southeastern Mediterranean coast, which was once a sanctuary for marine life, has seen fish stocks rapidly decline in recent years. Similar incidents occurred in 2016 and 2019.

It was on Monday, August 15, that residents started seeing fish and crustaceans dead on the shores.

“They are still washing up today. We calculate that some 20 tonnes have died to date,” said Jose Luis Garcia, director of the World Wildlife Fund’s marine programmes in Spain.

The regional government have blamed the deaths on the recent high temperatures in Spain, however, ecologists have been warning for years that nearby agricultural facilities and pollution from urban development has seriously affected the water quality.

“People call it the green soup,” explained Ramon Pagan of the Pact for the Mar Menor pressure group. “It’s caused by an excess of fertilisers in the water…particularly from intensive agriculture.”

Increased levels of phosphates and nitrates in the water have caused huge amounts of algae to bloom, blocking out the sunlight and reducing the oxygen levels in the water, eventually suffocating the marine life beneath.

Protestors wearing ‘SOS Mar Menor’ t-shirts gathered on the shore and chanted “We want solutions.”

“We have been demonstrating about this for years,” said Ana Pineda of the Urrutia residents’ association. “We’ve been unable to set foot in the water or be on the beach for years.”

Digging into the beach with her foot a few metres from the shoreline she uncovered a layer of thick black sludge beneath a thin covering of sand.


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Written by

Laura Kemp

Originally from UK, Laura is based in Axarquia and is a writer for the Euro Weekly News covering news and features. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]

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