- Case study area description and end users
The Mar Menor coastal lagoon (135 km2, mean depth 3.6 m, maximum 6 m), is located in a semi-arid region of southeast Spain (Fig. 1). This area is characterised by scarce precipitation (<300 mm yr-1) which mainly occurs during storm events in autumn and winter. The lagoon is isolated from the Mediterranean Sea by a 22 km long sandy bar (La Manga), crossed by five very shallow channels. In the early 1970s, one of these channels (El Estacio) was dredged and widened to make it navigable. Since then, it has become the lagoon’s main connection with the sea. The enlargement of El Estacio channel led to a substantial increase of water renewal rates from the Mediterranean, as well as subsequent changes in water temperatures and salinities. These changes favoured the colonisation of the lagoon by numerous marine species as lagoonal temperatures and salinities reached less extreme values (Pérez-Ruzafa et al., 1991).
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- Spatial Planning and Governance
According to the Water Framework Directive the following water bodies can be identified in the Mar Menor region: territorial waters, coastal waters and transitional waters.
Spatial Planning and Management Tools
At National level we have the national coastline plans. At Regional level we have the Regional Land Use Plans and Sectorial Plans that define the regional strategy for territorial development and the Protected Areas Land Use and Management Plans (PORN). At Municipal level we have Municipal Urban Plans (PGOU), which are regulatory instruments that establish the land use regime of the municipalities.
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- Socio-economic and policies issues
The Mar Menor is one of the largest coastal lagoons on the Mediterranean coastline and is subject to a wide range of uses, including large tourist resorts and intensive agriculture. The importance of the lagoon and its salt marshes in terms of biodiversity has been recognised in numerous international protection schemes: it has been a Ramsar International site since 1994; it is considered a Special Protected Area of Mediterranean Interest (SPAMI), established by the Barcelona Convention in 2001; and a Site of Community Importance (SCI) to be integrated in the Nature 2000 Network (EU Habitats Directive). This zone is also a Specially Protected Area (SPA) for the nest building, migration and hibernation of aquatic birds, and is protected by European legislation (Birds Directive 79/409/CEE).
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Pictures of Mar Menor available here.