The Mar Menor becomes first European ecosystem with legal status

by Lorraine Williamson
Mar Menor


The highly polluted Mar Menor lagoon in the Murcia region, has become the first European ecosystem with legal personality, after the Spanish Senate gave the green light on Wednesday.  

After a political campaign for legal personality, the bill passed with 230 votes in favour. Moreover, there were 30 abstentions and only three votes against. Consequently, it is hoped that the measure will strengthen the conservation and restoration of the coastal lagoon.  

Opinions divided 

The far-right party Vox maintained its veto, arguing that it is “legal nonsense” that responds to “an ideological and radical commitment” to “leave behind our human-centred society” and “move us towards an ecocentric society based on the 2030 Agenda”. 

PSOE senator Fernando Lastra that Vox deplored the fact that opinions on climate change, are considered ‘ideological’. And, moreover, argued that ‘human rights can, on the contrary, be reconciled with the rights of living beings’. 

Miguel Sánchez, of Ciudadanos, said the ILP Mar Menor platform was ‘proof of the failure of regional and national politics’, forcing ‘civil society to find a solution to the problem we politicians have created’. ‘While the lagoon is suffering, politics, instead of acting, has shrugged off the blame,’ he complained. 

The spokesman for the Izquierda Confederal, Vicenç Vidal, refused to respond to Vox’s arguments. ‘If we can no longer convince them with science or climate change, I ask them to withdraw their veto by invoking the papal letter or Article 45 of the Spanish constitution,’ he said. 

On behalf of the Popular Party, Senator Juan María Vázquez pointed out that the party and the Murcia government have expressed their ‘unquestionable respect’ for the ILP signatories’ demand. He pointed out that the citizens demand that environmental sustainability ‘go hand in hand’ with economic and social sustainability. ‘The veto would only succeed in curtailing the debate on a legislative text,’ added Vázquez. Who, like Vox, stood up for ’21st century agriculture. Which is wrongly identified as responsible for the state of the Mar Menor’. 

Over 600,000 signatures 

Last April, the Congress of Deputies approved a Popular Legislative Initiative (ILP) by a large majority. Moreover, the only votes against being Vox, . This was supported by more than 640,000 citizen signatures. Moreover, it was to give legal personality to the Mar Menor, that is, as a subject of law. So that any government that violated any provision would be guilty of a crime and sentenced to pay a fine. 

Following this approval, the proposal returned to the Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenges Committee. Once there, amendments to the text of the law were tabled. This was prior to parliamentary consideration, which has just concluded in the Senate. 

European ecosystem

The Mar Menor, Europe’s largest saltwater lagoon, has suffered from overlapping harmful situations for decades, ranging from mining activities and agricultural water and fertiliser dumping to the advent of tourism in the 1970s and the uncontrolled development of the La Manga coastal strip.  

Baycrest Wealth

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