Dead fish appeared this Wednesday in the Mar Menor. Eva Manez (REUTERS)
The worst omens of the scientific community for the Mar Menor (Murcia) are beginning to come true: some 250 small fish have appeared dead this Wednesday in the Socaire area, in Santiago de La Ribera, as a result of the low oxygen levels recorded in the area, due, among other factors, to the high number of nutrients that have reached the lagoon in recent weeks through water contaminated with nitrates.
Although it is, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and the Environment of the Government of Murcia, a "specific" episode and one cannot speak of a generalized situation of anoxia (lack of oxygen), the event has caused the explosion once again the alarms, not only environmental, but from the tourism sector,
Sources from the Ministry have confirmed to EL PAÍS that the dead fish (about three kilos in total) have already been removed from the area by environmental brigades, while a team of scientists from the Murcian Institute of Agricultural and Environmental Research and Development (Imida) has preliminarily analyzed water samples in the area, in which oxygen levels were between 2.2 and 4 milligrams per litre.
From these levels, they recognize from the regional administration, "the fauna can have problems if other factors coincide", so the technicians continue to monitor the area to analyze its evolution and be alert to the possible appearance of new specimens.
The possibility of this situation occurring was already collected at the end of April in a report by the Spanish Institute of Oceanography.
The CSIC scientists then explained how the torrential rains of March caused a massive influx of nutrients into the Mar Menor from agricultural drags that have caused algae to proliferate and increase oxygen consumption.
The Mar Menor Monitoring Committee, which periodically analyzes its situation, had also warned of this problem.
His spokesman, Emilio María Dolores, warned on May 3 that the conditions for an episode of anoxia were "beginning to occur", although he did not want to venture if it would be "imminent".
Why did the Mar Menor reach disaster and nothing changes?
Origin of the problem and possible solutions
So far this year, the Murcian Government has removed some 4,000 tons of algae from the lagoon to prevent its putrefaction in the water from consuming that oxygen, more than half, about 2,400, in the month of April.
The news has caught the counselor of the branch, Antonio Luengo, in full appearance in the Regional Assembly of Murcia, where he has blamed the poor state of the lagoon to the central Executive.
Despite the numerous criticisms for the management of the regional government in this unique ecosystem, Luengo has assured that "unfortunately these images can no longer surprise anyone" that are "a consequence of the inaction" of the central government for not acting to stop the discharges by the Rambla del Albujón [one of the inputs of nitrates from agriculture].
The socialist deputy Manuel Sevilla has reproached him from his seat that his "strategy for the recovery" of the lagoon is to "distribute blame".
"If he is not going to resign, he should at least apologize for the ecocide fruit of the 27 years of management of the PP in the autonomous community", he told him, a request for resignation to which Podemos has joined, whose regional secretary Organization, Ángel Luis Hernández, lamented that "nothing has changed" since the previous anoxia and no measures have been taken to prevent the agricultural industry from continuing to pollute the Mar Menor.
For its part, Ciudadanos has recalled that 80% of the powers related to the management of this natural area are in the hands of the autonomous community, which, despite this, continues "looking for excuses not to act", according to deputy Ana Martínez Vidal .
The episode, at least for now, is far from those that occurred in October 2019, when some three tons of fish were removed from the beaches of San Pedro del Pinatar, and in August of last year, when some 4.5 tons appeared. tons throughout a week in which several beaches had to be closed.
However, on those occasions, there were other additional circumstances, such as the higher temperature of the water, a breeding ground for this greater oxygen consumption due to the putrefaction of the algae.
In October 2019, it was about 24.5 degrees, and it reached 29 degrees in August 2021, according to data collected on the website where all the parameters related to the lagoon are published.
On May 6, the last data in the registry, the average temperature was still 19.3 degrees.
In addition to the environmental repercussions of this situation, the news fully affects the tourism and hotel sector, which was already facing the summer season "with a heavy heart" in the face of warnings from the scientific community, as Dionisio García, manager of the Station, points out. Naútica del Mar Menor, an entity that brings together hotel companies and sports activities in the area.
The expectations for this summer once the restrictions due to the coronavirus have been lifted, he points out, "were high", but in recent weeks the information about the poor situation of the lagoon slowed down the pace of reservations for the months of July and August, which are currently around 60% occupied.
For Soledad Díaz, president of the Association of Hoteliers of the Costa Cálida (Hostetur), we must speak of a "slowdown" in reservations rather than cancellations, since the uncertainty about how the state of the Mar Menor will evolve means that tourists do not still decide to close their trips.
Bartolomé Vera, president of the Murcia Region Hotel Business Association, still relies on last-minute reservations.
It certainly doesn't help that dead fish start to come out.
You can follow CLIMA Y MEDIO AMBIENTE on
, or sign up here to receive
our weekly newsletter