Hundreds of fish die in Lagoa dos Salgados due to vandalism in the floodgates

Artificial opening of the bar to lower the water level would not have had anything to do with the ecological incident

Dead fish floating in the north of Lagoa dos Salgados – Photo: Elisabete Rodrigues | Sul Informação

Hundreds of fish, mostly mullet weighing more than three kilos, died in recent days in the northern part of Lagoa dos Salgados. to what the Sul Informação found from several sources, the proximate cause of this death is the «vandalization of the floodgates» that regulate the water level.

Anabela Santos, from the environmental association Almargem, told our newspaper that the mouth of Lagoa dos Salgados was opened at the end of April, after this association, together with the Society for the Study of Birds (SPEA), asked the Portuguese Agency Environment (APA) to proceed with the artificial opening of the bar.

The request was based on the fact that, in the southern part of the lagoon area, below the floodgates, the rain had caused «the water level to rise to very high levels», which led to the flooding of the central islets, making it difficult or even preventing the nesting of numerous bird species.

O Sul Informação knows that the APA asked the Institute for the Conservation of Nature and Forests (ICNF) for an opinion on the opening of the bar, having obtained green light of this organism. «Very quickly, the APA speeded up the process, the mouth of the lagoon was opened, the APA monitored it and everything was fine», says the Almargem technician.

The opening of the bar only drained the waters of the southern area of ​​Lagoa dos Salgados, and the northern area, above a system with two floodgates, remained intact, with a normal water level. The expectation was that the southern part of the lagoon would naturally refill in the coming weeks, as has happened in previous artificial openings.


Dead fish, in the northern part of Lagoa dos Salgados – Photo: Elisabete Rodrigues | Sul Informação


However, on the 10th of May, a member of the association who usually follows closely, day by day, what is happening in the lagoon, noticed that the water level in the north area, which should have been kept intact by the closed floodgates, had decreased. . Added to this was the lack of rain and the heat wave of the last few days. The result: hundreds of dead, rotting fish began to appear on the surface of the remaining water.

«We immediately contacted the APA, as soon as we realized that something had gone wrong and they were quick to act», added Anabela Santos.

Yesterday, Friday, the floodgates had already been reset to their normal position, at the same time that the bar was artificially closed.

O Sul Informação was at the site in the middle of yesterday afternoon and found that, at the end of the lagoon, on the beach, there were three machines at work: an ICNF crawler machine, normally used to help fight fires, but here used to put out other fires, and two excavators, supplied, as our newspaper was informed, by the Câmara de Silves. By late afternoon, the bar was closed.


Machines working on closing the mouth of the pond – Photo: Elisabete Rodrigues | Sul Informação



It is now necessary to remove the hundreds of huge fish that lie dead floating in the waters of the northern part of the lagoon. This task should be carried out over the weekend, in a joint effort by APA, ICNF, Silves and Albufeira Municipal Councils and with the help of Zoomarine.

Lagoa dos Salgados is currently waiting to be classified as a Nature Reserve, in a process that was under public consultation in December and January, as our newspaper reported. At the moment, the ICNF, which proposed a national level classification for this wetland and also a vast area that includes fields and the Alcantarilha/Pêra marsh, is finalizing the report on public participation, to submit it to the new minister of Environment.

In February, they were in public consultation two Environmental Compliance Reports of the Execution Project (RECAPE), both referring to the planned (but unlicensed) tourist development for an extensive area that, if the process goes ahead, should be part of the Nature Reserve.

At the time, the Participatory Movement of Lagoa dos Salgados contested this process, considering the simultaneous submission for consideration in Public Consultation of two RECAPEs for the same undertaking as 'incomprehensible, as the EU1 must be assessed as a whole». There is still no decision on this process.

But all this highlights the opposing forces and interests that this coastal wetland continues to generate. The vandalization of the floodgates could be just another episode.


Photos: Elisabete Rodrigues | Sul Informação