Protests after dead fish swamp Spanish lagoon

There's something fishy going on in Mar Menor in Murcia on Spain's southeastern Mediterranean coast.

"I have been here 14 years and it used to be clean when I first arrived. I would swim but now I don't because the conditions aren't right. This has been filled with dead fish for days."

Some 20 tons of dead fish have washed up on the shores of one of Europe's largest saltwater lagoons, sparking protests against worsening environmental conditions, while local prosecutors opened an investigation.

Once a magnet for tourism and a sanctuary for marine life, the lagoon has seen fish stocks plummet in recent years, with similar mass die-offs occurring in 2016 and 2019.

Ramon Pagan is from the Pact for the Mar Menor.

"We are tired. The civil community, the scientific community and all the residents of Murcia, we are all tired nothing is being done in the Murcia region."

While the regional government blamed the deaths on recent high temperatures, ecologists have warned for years that runoff from nearby agricultural facilities and pollution from urban development has severely degraded the water quality.

High levels of phosphates and nitrates in the water cause huge blooms of algae to flourish.

These block out sunlight from penetrating the water and reduce oxygen levels below the surface, eventually suffocating the marine life.

And locals say it's driving people away.

"Right now half the people have put their houses up for sale because the village is increasing deteriorating. People don't want to come. Just think, it's August 18 and with the heat, look at the beach, it's empty."

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