Posted by on September 21, 2022 4:43 pm
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Endangered Spanish lagoon receives personhood status

A man collects dead fish that have appeared by the shore of the Isle of Ciervo off La Manga, part of the Mar Menor lagoon in Murcia, Spain. (Edu Botella/Europa Press via AP, File)

Endangered Spanish lagoon receives personhood status

Ryan King September 21, 03:57 PMSeptember 21, 03:57 PM Video Embed

A new life form has been declared on the law books in Spain: the Mar Menor saltwater lagoon.

Spain gave personhood status to the Mar Menor, which is one of the largest saltwater lagoons in Europe, on Wednesday in a win for environmentalists who have sounded the alarms about a massive degradation in the lagoon, the Associated Press reported.

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“There’s still a lot of work ahead, but today is a day to celebrate,” the Pact for the Mar Menor Platform tweeted. “The Mar Menor has made history and so have the more than 640,000 people who signed their names so that it could have legal status as a person.”

Over 640,000 people petitioned to grant personhood status to the lagoon, which deems the body of water a living force. A law ratified by Spain’s Senate on Wednesday asserts that the lagoon has a right “to exist as an ecosystem and to evolve naturally,” the report said.

Supporters of the measure are hoping it will help safeguard the lagoon and forestall further degradation. A cadre of local officials and others will legally represent the lagoon, according to the outlet.

The declaration is the first time personhood status has been given to a lagoon in Spain, but other countries such as New Zealand have issued similar declarations in the past, according to the report.

Activists have long fretted that runoff from fertilizers and poor sewage systems killed marine life in the lagoon and degraded the quality of its water. In 2019, before the pandemic, roughly 50,000 people rallied in a nearby city to protest the deterioration of the lagoon.

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Spain recently greenlighted 20 million euros ($19.7 million) in funding to help rehabilitate the lagoon.

New Zealand granted personhood status to the Whanganui River in 2017, making it the first river in the world to receive personhood status.

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