Spain Bans Fertilizers After Dead Fish Wash Up in Lagoon

Spanish authorities on Wednesday have banned the use of fertilizers around a saltwater lagoon on the Mediterranean coast after five tons of dead fish washed up on its shores.

The regional government of Murcia, some 400 kilometers (240 miles) southeast of Madrid, announced that they would prohibit the use of inorganic nitrogen fertilizers at farms within 1,500 meters (1,640 yards) of the Mar Menor lagoon on the Mediterranean coast.

The decision came after scores of small fish and shrimp began to wash up along the beaches of the Mar Menor lagoon last week.

Residents around the area also complained that the waters of the lagoon, once popular with tourists, were cloudy, green, and emitting a foul odor.

Angel Sallent, a biologist with the conservation group focused on south-east Spain Anse, said that the five-ton figure calculated by the regional government is likely to be an underestimate.

“We’ve done dives and we could see that there were dead fish on the seabed. We’ll likely never be able to quantify the number of animals that have died,” said Sallent.

Ecologists have warned for years of nitrate-laden runoffs, mostly from agriculture, that trigger vast alga blooms causing oxygen depletion in the waters.

Agricultural groups have long rejected such claims, arguing that they are complying with all environmental legislation.

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