A terrible loss of animal life etched the issues for all to see on the eve of an international conference on the environment of the Mediterranean Sea: Scores of dead dolphins were washing up on the beaches of Majorca, the Costa Brava and other favorite resorts of Spain. Veterinarians concluded that contamination of the Mediterranean had broken down the immune systems of these animals.
It was a dramatic reminder that the calm and light-blue waters of the Mediterranean have become polluted in the last few decades by the immense industrialization of southern Europe and by the 50-million tourists who crowd onto the sun-drenched beaches every year.
The issues thus seemed obvious enough when the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe opened its meeting on the Mediterranean environment here almost a month ago.
But the Mediterranean, usually described as the cradle of European civilization, has often been a crucible of conflict as well. So, it was not too surprising that the meeting of 35 nations, which ended Friday, was caught up in tense wrangling during key moments of negotiation.
The conference had the usual tug of wills between environmentalists and protectors of economic interests.
Xavier Pastor, a Spaniard in charge of Greenpeace's Mediterranean studies, denounced what he called the incompetence of many delegations and singled out the United States, the Soviet Union, Britain and the European Common Market secretariat as the main diluters of tough resolutions.