Mar Menor ‘stench’ deters tourists and house buyers

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Mar Menor with algae. Image: SOS Mar Menor Facebook

The condition of the lagoon at Mar Menor continues to deteriorate. As a result, house prices have come to a standstill and tourists are thinking twice about holidaying there.

An environmental disaster has hit the saltwater lagoon of Mar Menor in Murcia. What was once a top tourist attraction and popular expat location is now feeling the economic effect of the pollution.

Scientists say the saltwater lagoon suffered extensive pollution after intensive farming created a lack of oxygen in the water.

As children, local residents would swim in the crystal-clear waters of Mar Menor. Now the green water and odour are a deterrent. In August, tonnes of dead fish and shellfish washed up on the shores of the lagoon.

The cause of the green-ness is an overgrowth of algae as a result of pollution. This in turn reduces sunlight and oxygen in the water, killing marine life.

Environmentalists campaign for Mar Menor

Client Earth is an environmental law charity. Alongside partner, Ecologista en Acción, they submitted a formal complaint to the European Commission. They requested action against Spain and urged them to protect the lagoon.

Client Earth told “We’ve seen mass deaths of marine life over the last few years which is really sad. Visually, it’s quite awful but it also creates a stench and wildlife is dying off and disappearing.

“It’s starting to cause tourists to not come to what was once a very beautiful area. And it’s a protected area as well.

“People are quite frustrated because they’re also seeing the economic impacts of what’s going on there.”

The local campaign, SOS Mar Menor, staged protests and campaign for action.

Economic impact

El País newspaper reported tourist venues have seen cancellations for 2021 as people chose to avoid the polluted lagoon.

Furthermore, property experts believe the polluted lagoon is impacting house prices in the surrounding area. According to Bank of Spain analysis, prices in similar areas in Alicante rose by 40% in the last six years.

However, prices of houses located on the shores of Mar Menor have remained almost unchanged since 2015.

Government action

The Spanish Government recently announced it would put almost €400 million into restoring the Mar Menor and surrounding areas.

Read: Government to invest in restoring Mar Menor

In addition, the environment ministry plans to curb some agricultural practices in the region.

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