The poor condition and pollution of the Mar Menor in the Murcia region has suffered various mass fish kills. The last of which was in August this year. Furthermore, it seems to be partly caused by producers from the area who are important to German supermarket chain ALDI.
WDR investigation opened eyes
The supermarket chain buys fruit and vegetables from the area around Cartagena. This is one of Spain’s main production areas. Therefore, ALDI is concerned about the ‘serious environmental violations’ in the area. And, furthermore, has asked 80 fruit and vegetable growers for explanations. ALDI was made aware of the situation by an investigation by the Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR), a German public broadcaster. The company’s policy, which is to take a ‘responsible approach to the environment and natural resources’, leads them to ‘thoroughly investigate the allegations in order to take the necessary steps’.
Illegal wells and desalination plants
These are producers accused of using illegal wells and desalination plants between 2017 and 2021. There is also alleged pollution from discharged excess water containing nitrates, phosphates, and brine from desalination, into the Mar Menor. As a result, the lagoon is so polluted that a large part of the marine fauna has died,’ says ALDI; ‘so many marine animal carcasses have washed ashore that the authorities have raised the alarm.
The attempts to defend the responsible fruit and vegetable producers involved do not seem very credible, especially considering the hydrological situation and the climatic conditions in the region. ALDI has asked the producers for clarification and asked them to ‘comment on the allegations in question’.
The president of the Autonomous Community of Murcia, Fernando López Miras, stated at a press conference that he does not know exactly what information is involved, nor from whom ALDI requested the information. In any case, if a farmer complies with the law ‘strictly’, ‘he can count on defence’. But if the companies involved have committed illegal acts, ‘they will have to bear the consequences both of the companies buying their products and of the courts’.
Much at stake
Murcia’s regional Ministry of Agriculture and Environment contacted the Spanish embassy in Germany yesterday to try to arrange a meeting with the supermarket chain and other interested parties through the ambassador, a regional government spokesman said. ‘It is not just about these companies, which, if found guilty, will be scrutinised by the regional government, but also about the controls applied and the quality of local produce,’ he added. ‘There are fears that the whole sector, not just in Murcia, could be affected.