“Absurd” and “counterproductive”: so ecologists and scientists see the measures of Lopez Miras to the disaster in the Mar Menor

For the sixth consecutive day the Mar Menor drowns. Tens of thousands of dead fish have returned to shipwreck on the beaches of the salt lagoon. The image is not new: in October 2019 the beach of Villananitos, located on the shores of the Mar Menor, dawned with hundreds of dead fish.

Faced with this situation, last Friday the head of the regional executive, Fernando López Miras, proposed three measures before this new episode of anoxia of the Mar Menor. The president of the Region demanded that the State ceded the powers of coasts and the basin, has announced the launch of a decree to prohibit the entry of “nutrients” by the Albujón wadi and has recovered the proposal of Vox to recover the draft of the gola of Marchamalo.

Miras has assured that “since they hold him responsible for what happened he wants to take responsibility” and that he has done “everything possible” for the Mar Menor with the current tools. The professor of the University of Alicante, Francisca Giménez, reproaches the regional executive that “has not made a single proposal related to its competences”. Julio Más, former director of the Oceanographic Center of Murcia, objects, and denounces that the Region “does not apply the nitrates directive or the legal limit of 1,500 meters for the use of nitrogen fertilizers. It does not apply the laws that he promulgates, but asks for a series of powers that no autonomous community has and that go against the general scientific criteria.

“We have been asking for years for measures that have not been put into practice. We asked to reduce the area of intensive agriculture to at least 10,000 hectares of irrigated land. That the Administration was responsible for the 8,500 hectares of illegal irrigated land that the Community had denied until the Hydrographic Confederation confirmed its existence, we propose a network of green wetland filters and measures to ensure that wastewater does not end up in the Mar Menor every time there is a heavy rain, “recalls Pedro Garcia, director of the Association of Naturalists of the Southeast (ANSE).

“Measures of war between administrations”.

Giménez insists on the margin of action that Miras has with the current competences, and adds that what was proposed in the press conference last Friday “are measures of war between administrations, not to seek solutions”. The professor is concerned about the proposal to recover the draft of the gola de Marchamalo. This measure was already suggested by Vox in 2019 and discarded by the scientific community: “When enough water from the Mediterranean Sea enters the Mar Menor what it can cause is that the pathogen that has killed the nacre in the Mediterranean enters. The last specimens of this critically endangered species are being put at risk”. The professor warns that “the water that will come out will alter the water and the quality of the beaches of La Manga that overlook the Mediterranean”.

Regarding the ban on the entry of nutrients to the Albujón wadi, Giménez notes that “if you make this proposal to close the aquifer with an impressive public expenditure and continue to introduce water into the aquifer, what good is it?

The ex-director of the Oceanográfico does not hesitate to accuse Miras of having fallen into a “fallacy”: “The regional government exonerates itself by bouncing the problem back to the central administration that water is entering through the channels, which are the responsibility of the State. The issue is that the Southeast is one of the driest ecosystems in Europe. It practically does not rain, there is no permanent watercourse except the Segura river, which is the most regulated river in Europe. So how can it be that the Albujón wadi and others on the Campo de Cartagena side of the river have water all year round? Where does the water come from? From intensive irrigation, which is the responsibility of the autonomous community,” explains the former director.

Nitrates, phosphates and herbicides

“The problem is not really the water. The water is not natural, it is irrigation, and the problem is the nitrates, mineral phosphates and herbicides and other compounds that it carries in solution. So the basis of the argument that it is the state-controlled watershed that causes the problem falls apart. Those basins should not have water and the problem is not the water, but what it carries,” Mas adds.

The former director of the Oceanographic points to the overexploitation of the Campo de Cartagena as the great enemy of the “Mar Menor”: “The Campo de Cartagena begins to reproduce this system of intensive irrigation through the water of the aqueduct”. “What the aqueduct brought was a form of agricultural management that ruled out any other. Desemboc in this because it was accompanied by many illegal activities and a growth of intensive agriculture. We must remember that the Confederación Hidrógráfica del Segura has allowed and legalized this proliferation. The transfer installed a form of operation that made many farmers if they wanted to survive had to operate in the same way,” explains the director of ANSE. “It does not mean that we have to remove the transfer, but reuse it. We are facing a major crisis: either we increase the crisis or we make a deep reflection that leads us to a more sustainable system,” says Julio Mas.

Last Saturday Miras has continued to defend their measures in social networks, updating your profile picture by the logo of the association SOS Mar Menor. The head of the Murcian Executive insists that “the scientific community agrees that the main problem is the entry of fresh water with nutrients from the aquifer to the Mar Menor, by wadis and subsoil, due to the high water table of the aquifer,” but without relating these levels with intensive agriculture in the Campo de Cartagena.

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