Spain granted personality status to a large salt lagoon on Wednesday to better protect its threatened ecosystem. Such a measure was adopted in Europe for the first time.
An initiative to grant status to the Mar Menor – one of Europe’s largest saltwater lagoons – has been debated in parliament after campaigners collected more than 500,000 signatures in support of it.
It is now becoming law after Spain’s Senate, the upper house of parliament, voted in favor of the proposal, which was opposed only by the far-right Vox party.
This will allow the rights of the lagoon, located in the south-east of Spain, to be defended in court as if it were a person or a business.
“The Mar Menor becomes the first European ecosystem with its own rights after the Senate approved a bill to give it a legal identity,” Senate President Ander Gill tweeted after the vote.
The lagoon will now be legally represented by a watchdog group made up of local officials, scientists working in the area and local residents.
Environmentalists have warned for years that the Mar Menor is slowly dying because of fertilizer runoff from nearby farms.
Millions in August 2021 dead fish and crustaceans began to wash up on the shores of the lagoon, which experts blamed agricultural pollution.
They claim that the marine animals died due to a lack of oxygen caused by hundreds of tons of nitrate fertilizers that leaked into the water, causing a phenomenon known as eutrophication, which is collapsing aquatic ecosystems.
Two similar catastrophic events occurred in 2016 and 2019.
Environmentalists in October 2021 submitted a formal complaint to the EU over what they called Spain’s “continued failure” to protect the Mar Menor, which they warned was on the border.ecological collapse“.
The following month, the Spanish government unveiled a 382 million euro ($377 million) plan to regenerate the lagoon.
It describes several environmental restoration projects to maintain biodiversity in and around the lagoon, including the creation of a 1.5 kilometer (one mile) buffer zone along the shores of the Mar Menor.
© 2022 AFP
Citation: Spain grants personhood status to threatened lagoon (2022, September 21) Retrieved September 21, 2022, from https://phys.org/news/2022-09-spain-grants-personhood-status-threatened. html
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