Spain has granted personhood status to Europe's largest salt-water lagoon, allowing it to be legally represented by a group of caretakers made up of local officials, citizens, and scientists. Mar Menor lagoon, which covers 135 sq km, is separated from the open sea by a narrow strip of land that is a popular vacation spot dotted with hotels. For years, ecologists and citizens have denounced periodic die-offs of marine life due to fertilizer runoff from nearby farms. This month, Spain's government approved €20 million to improve water treatment in towns near Mar Menor as part of a recovery plan for the lagoon. More than 600,000 citizens backed the personhood initiative, which codifies the lagoon's right "to exist as an ecosystem and to evolve naturally" and recognizes its right to protection, conservation and restoration. Mar Menor is home to several species of fish, seahorses and the endangered European eel.

Read Full Story