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A citizen initiative achieves more than half a million signatures to give the Mar Menor its own rights


The popular legislative initiative that seeks to provide the Mar Menor with its own rights has reached the half million signatures necessary for its bill to be debated in Congress. Despite the difficulties to achieve something like this in the middle of the pandemic, the count this weekend in the office of the University of Murcia of Teresa Vicente, professor of Philosophy of Law and main promoter of the idea, has confirmed that they already have sufficient support to take the proposal to Madrid. The objective is to get a law to grant legal personality to the Mar Menor – as people or companies have -, which would make this threatened lagoon the first ecosystem in Europe with its own rights and would allow its legal representatives to go to the courts in their defense.

“Nobody supported us at the beginning, they told us that we were crazy, that we had no organization, but this shows the enormous social strength of this initiative”, Vicente comments exultantly after of 11 months of collecting signatures full of uncertainty. As the professor points out, the regional institutions turned their backs on them from the beginning and for a long time they have been alone, they have not even had help from environmental groups. However, this contrasts with the more than half a million supports obtained, a number that continues to grow, as promoters continue to receive documents with more signatures: “From the Canary Islands to Helsinki, thousands of people have been committed to the Mar Menor”.

This strong citizen support found has undoubtedly been influenced by the critical state of this ecosystem, which last August suffered a new episode of fish mortality due to the lack of oxygen in the water caused by the large amount of nitrates in the lagoon, coming mainly from agricultural activity. In fact, at the beginning of October thousands of Murcians took to the streets again to protest the degradation of the Mar Menor.

Although they have collected signatures from citizens from all over Spain and even from residents in other countries , the vast majority of the support obtained is from within Murcia. “Not only have we reached half a million signatures, today there are 23 municipalities in the Region of Murcia, which represent more than 81% of the citizenry Murcia, who have supported this popular legislative initiative ”, highlights Vicente, who does not understand that with this social support from Murcian themselves, the regional Parliament has not listened to their requests to directly raise the bill to the country’s Congress.

Once the half million signatures stipulated by Spanish legislation for popular legislative initiatives have been obtained, it will be up to the Central Electoral Board to proceed with their verification and definitive recount. Then, once the validity of the supports has been notified, it will be the Board of Congress that must order the publication of the proposed Law, which from that moment must be included in the agenda of the Plenary in the maximum term of six months for its consideration.

In the bill promoted by Professor Vicente the legal personality of the Mar Menor lagoon and its basin is declared, and their rights are recognized “to the protection, conservation, maintenance and, where appropriate, restoration by the governments and riverside inhabitants “, as well as” the right to exist as an ecosystem and evolve naturally. “

For this, the idea is that the representation and governance of this ecosystem is specified in three figures: “a Guardianship and legal representation of the Lagoon, which must be exercised through a representative of the public administrations that intervene in this area and a representative of the citizens of the municipality riparian s; a Monitoring Commission (the guardians of the Laguna del Mar Menor); and a Scientific Committee, which will assist the Tutoring and the Commission, of which an independent commission of scientists and experts, universities and research centers, at regional, national and international level will form part. ”

Likewise, the proposal to be approved in Congress intends that any conduct that violates the rights recognized and guaranteed by this law, by any public authority, private law entity, natural person or legal person, generates criminal, civil, liability, environmental and administrative, and may be prosecuted and sanctioned in accordance with criminal, civil, environmental and administrative regulations in their corresponding jurisdictions.

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