Blue Flag beach
The Blue Flag is a trademark owned by FEE which is a not-for-profit, non-governmental organisation consisting of 65 organisations in 60 member countries in Europe, Africa, Oceania, Asia, North America and South America.
FEE's Blue Flag criteria include standards for water quality, safety, environmental education and information, the provision of services and general environmental management criteria. The Blue Flag is sought for beaches and marinas as an indication of their high environmental and quality standards.
Certificates, which FEE refers to as awards, are issued on an annual basis to beaches and marinas of FEE member countries. The awards are announced yearly on 5 June for Europe, Canada, Morocco, Tunisia and other countries in a similar geographic location, and on 1 November for the Caribbean, New Zealand, South Africa and other countries in the southern hemisphere.
36 beaches in South Africa have been awarded a Blue Flag status for excellent bathing quality. In South Africa sewage water is pumped offshore and with high tide water water from offshore is brought onto the beach area. Even a beach is awarded a Blue Flag beach, adults, children and especially immune compromised people are at risk for a thalassogenic disease when they bath in sewage polluted water. There are several managerial points of Blue Flag beaches that need to be taken care of: Dogs are present on the beach despite well visible prohibition signs. Often no water quality data are displayed, although the Blue Flag was hoisted. When data are displayed, they are delayed in time. The US Environmental Protection Agency (2004) recommends a 24 hour method to use for water testing at recreational bathing sites to minimize the time between sample collection and swimmer exposure. Alternatively a rapid measurement that can easily be performed on site might be recommendable. Otherwise, it is more reliable to look out for obvious signs of waste water pollution such as yellowish colouring of sand and foam.<6>
- 1 Blue Flags awarded
- 2 History
- 3 Blue Flag beach criteria
- 4 Blue Flag marina criteria
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Blue Flags awarded
As a result of the 2009 awards, a total of 3,458 Blue Flags are waving around the world: 2,808 beaches and 650 Marinas.
2009 Top places
Consistently in the past few years Spain has topped the list for the most Blue Flags awarded, with Greece coming second (like in 2008) and France in third place.
Cyprus with 53 Blue Flag beaches has three records:
- the most Blue Flags per capita in the world
- the most dense concentration of Blue Flag Beaches
- the most Blue Flag beaches and per coastline length in the whole world.
Table of Blue Flags in force 2009
The table below lists the Blue Flags (both for beaches and marinas) awarded and in force in 2009. The table can be sorted to show the total number of Blue Flags per country and also the number of Blue Flags per population, per area or per the length of the coastline of each country.
|Country||Blue Flag Beaches||Blue Flag Marinas ||Total Blue Flags||Population||Area (km2)||Coastline (km) ||Blue Flag Beaches per 1,000,000 Population||Total Blue Flags per 1,000,000 Population||Blue Flag Beaches Density per 10,000 km2 Area||Total Blue Flags Density per 10,000 km2 Area||Blue Flag Beaches per 100 km coastline|
|France (inc. territories)||285||74||359||65,073,482||632,760||4,668||4.38||5.52||4.50||5.67||6.11|
Note: Wales, Scotland, England and Ireland have always been treated as individual countries e.g. in 2013 Ireland had 73 Blue Flag beaches and marinas, England had 55 Wales had 38 and Scotland 3.[Blue Flag Website 1]
The Blue Flag was created in France in 1985 as a pilot scheme where French coastal municipalities were awarded the Blue Flag on the basis of criteria covering sewage treatment and bathing water quality.
Blue Flag on European Community level in 1987
1987 was the "European Year of the Environment" and the European Commission was responsible for developing the European Community activities of that year. The Foundation for Environmental Education in Europe (FEEE) presented the concept of the Blue Flag to the Commission, and it was agreed to launch the Blue Flag Programme as one of several "European Year of the Environment" activities in the Community.
The French concept of the Blue Flag was developed on European level to include other areas of environmental management, such as waste management and coastal planning and protection. Besides beaches marinas also became eligible for the Blue Flag.
In 1987, 244 beaches and 208 marinas from 10 countries were awarded the Blue Flag.
There have been increases in the numbers of Blue Flags awarded each year. The criteria have during these years been changed to more strict criteria. As an example, in 1992 the Programme started using the restrictive guideline values in the EEC Bathing Water Directive as imperative criteria, and this was also the year where all Blue Flag criteria became the same in all participating countries.
Outside the European Union
In 2001, FEEE rules were changed to allow non-European national organisations, sharing the objectives of FEEE, to become members, and changed its name by dropping Europe from its name, becoming the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE).
Several organisations and authorities outside the European Union have joined FEE. FEE has been cooperating with UNEP and UN WTO on extending the Programme to areas outside Europe. South Africa, Canada, Morocco, Tunisia, New Zealand and four countries in the Caribbean region are members of FEE. Aruba, Brazil and Malta are currently in the pilot phase of the Programme and Jordan, Macedonia, Turks & Caicos Islands, Ukraine and United Arab Emirates have started the implementation of the Blue Flag Programme.
FEE standards allow for regional variations in beach criteria to reflect specific environmental conditions of a region. As of 2006 an international set of criteria is being used with some variations.
In 2013 over 3850 beaches and marinas globally were awarded the Blue Flag.[Blue Flag Website 1]
48 countries are currently participating in the Blue Flag Programme: Aruba, Bahamas, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Dominican Republic, England, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Montenegro, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, Romania, Scotland, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Wales.
Blue Flag beach criteria
Environmental Education and Information
- Information relating to coastal zone ecosystems and natural, sensitive areas in the coastal zone must be displayed
- Information about bathing water quality must be displayed
- Information about the Blue Flag Programme must be displayed
- Code of conduct for the beach area must be displayed and the laws governing beach use must be easily available to the public upon request
- A minimum of 5 environmental education activities must be offered
- Compliance with the requirements and standards for excellent bathing water quality
- No industrial or sewage related discharges may affect the beach area
- Monitoring on the health of coral reefs located in the vicinity of the beach
- Compliance of the community with requirements for sewage treatment and effluent quality
- Algae or other vegetation should be left to decay on the beach unless it constitutes a nuisance
- A beach management committee must be established to be in charge of instituting environmental management systems and conduct regular environmental audits of the beach facility
- The beach must comply with all regulations affecting the location and operation of the beach (coastal zone planning and environmental legislation)
- The beach must be clean
- Waste disposal bins/receptacles must be available on/by the beach in adequate numbers, regularly maintained and emptied
- Facilities for receiving recyclable waste materials must be available on/by the beach
- Adequate and clean sanitary facilities with controlled sewage disposal
- On the beach there will be no unauthorised camping or driving and no dumping
- Regulation concerning dogs and other domestic animals on the beach must be strictly enforced
- All buildings and equipment of the beach must be properly maintained
- Sustainable means of transportation must be promoted in the beach area
Safety and services
- An adequate number of lifeguards and/or lifesaving equipment must be available at the beach
- First aid equipment must be available on the beach
- There must be management of different users and uses of the beach so as to prevent conflicts and accidents
- An emergency plan to cope with pollution safety risks must be in place
- There must be safe access to the beach
- The beach area must be patrolled
- A supply of potable drinking water must be available on the beach
- A minimum of one Blue Flag beach in each municipality must have access and toilet facilities provided for disabled persons
- A map of the beach indicating different facilities must be displayed
Blue Flag marina criteria
Environmental education and information
- Environmental information about natural sensitive nearby land and marine areas is supplied to marina users.
- Code of environmental conduct is posted in the marina.
- Information about the Blue Flag Marina Programme and/or the Blue Flag Marina Criteria are posted in the marina.
- The marina should be able to demonstrate that at least three environmental education activities are offered to the users and staff of the marina
- The Individual Blue Flag for boat owners is offered through the marina.
- Production of an environmental policy and plan at the marina. The plan should include references to water, waste and energy consumption, health and safety issues, and the use of environmentally sound products when available.
- Adequate and properly identified and segregated containers for the storage of hazardous wastes (paints, solvents, boat scrapings, antifouling agents, batteries, waste oil, flares). The wastes should be handled by a licensed contractor and disposed of at a licensed facility for hazardous waste.
- Adequate and well managed litter bins and/or garbage containers. The wastes should be handled by a licensed contractor and disposed of by a licensed facility.
- The marina has facilities for receiving recyclable waste materials, such as bottles, cans, paper, plastic, organic material, etc.
- Bilge water pumping facilities are present in the marina.
- Toilet pumping facilities are present in the marina.
- All buildings and equipment must be properly maintained and in compliance with national legislation. The marina must be in a good integration with the surrounding natural and built environment.
- Adequate, clean and well sign-posted sanitary facilities, including washing facilities and drinking water. Controlled sewage disposal to a licensed sewage treatment.
- If the marina has boat repairing and washing areas, no pollution must enter the sewage system, marina land and water or the natural surroundings.
- Promotion of sustainable transportation.
- No parking/driving in the marina, unless in specific designated areas.
Safety and service
- Adequate, clean and well sign-posted lifesaving, first-aid equipment and fire-fighting equipment. Equipment must be approved by national authorities.
- Emergency plan in case of pollution, fire or other accidents must be produced.
- Safety precautions and information must be posted at the marina.
- Electricity and water is available at the berths, installations must be approved according to national legislation.
- Facilities for disabled people.
- Map indicating the location of the different facilities is posted at the marina.
- Visually clean water (no oil, litter, sewage or other evidence of pollution).
Microbiological test as evidence for bacterial free
- "Blue Flag International Website". The Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE). Retrieved 29 August 2013.
6 Weimann: Blue Flag beaches-bathers at risk for thalassogenic diseases. JEE, Vol 5, No 1, 2014
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