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The Blue Flag


The Blue Flag is an award that is given to beaches and marinas that have met stringent standards. The exclusive ‘eco-label’ is awarded on an annual basis to beaches and marinas around the world.

The Blue Flag Programme is owned and run by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) which is a not-for-profit, non-governmental organisation consisting of national member organisations representing 59 countries in Europe, Africa, Oceania, Asia, North America and South America.

Compliance with Blue Flag criteria requires adherence to strict water quality standards, safety standards, environmental education and information, the provision of services and general environmental management criteria, set by the FEE.

In the European Union, the water quality standards are enshrined in the EC Bathing Waters Directive.

The right to fly a Blue Flag at a beach or a marina is a strong indication of high environmental standards and is a much sought after accolade around the world.

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 hemispheremarker.

Blue Flags Awarded

2009 Awards

As a result of the 2009 awards (currently 2008 for northern hemisphere) a total of 3,355 Blue Flags are waving around the world: 2,723 beaches and 632 Marinas.

2009 Top places

Consistently in the past few years Spainmarker has topped the list for the most Blue Flags awarded, with Greecemarker coming second (like in 2008) and Francemarker in the third place.

Cyprusmarker 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 today.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) [210626] 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 per 10,000 km2 Area Blue Flag Beaches per 100 km coastline
0 3 3 342,000 13,943 3542 0.00 8.77 0.00 2.15 0.00
5 8 13 10,754,528 30,528 67 0.46 1.21 1.64 4.26 7.46
7 1 8 7,606,551 110,879 354 0.92 1.05 0.63 0.72 1.98
4 3 7 33,738,000 9,984,670 202,080 0.12 0.21 0.00 0.01 0.00
114 20 134 4,435,056 56,594 5,835 25.70 30.21 20.14 23.68 1.95
53 0 53 801,600 9,251 648 66.12 66.12 57.29 57.29 8.18
209 68 277 5,515,287 43,094 7,314 37.89 50.22 48.50 64.28 2.86
7 0 7 10,090,000 48,310 1,288 0.69 0.69 1.45 1.45 0.54
0 23 23 5,340,806 338,145 1,250 0.00 4.31 0.00 0.68 0.00
(inc. territories) 285 74 359 65,073,482 632,760 4,668 4.38 5.52 4.50 5.67 6.11
39 115 154 82,046,000 357,022 2,389 0.48 1.88 1.09 4.31 1.63
425 8 433 11,257,285 131,957 13,676 37.75 38.46 32.21 32.81 3.11
2 5 7 319,326 103,000 4,970 6.26 21.92 0.19 0.68 0.04
74 2 76 4,422,100 70,273 1,448 16.73 17.19 10.53 10.81 5.11
225 60 285 60,067,554 301,318 7,600 3.75 4.74 7.47 9.46 2.96
9 2 11 2,257,300 64,589 498 3.99 4.87 1.39 1.70 1.81
5 0 5 3,349,872 65,300 90 1.49 1.49 0.77 0.77 5.56
1 0 1 413,627 316 197 2.42 2.42 31.65 31.65 0.51
19 0 19 624,000 13,812 294 30.45 30.45 13.76 13.76 6.46
16 0 16 31,538,660 446,550 1,835 0.51 0.51 0.36 0.36 0.87
41 65 106 16,525,751 41,543 815 2.48 6.41 9.87 25.52 5.03
2 1 3 4,318,700 270,467 15,134 0.46 0.69 0.07 0.11 0.01
3 8 11 4,830,000 323,802 25,148 0.62 2.28 0.09 0.34 0.01
5 4 9 38,100,700 312,685 440 0.13 0.24 0.16 0.29 1.14
(inc. Azores and Madeiramarker) 225 14 239 10,627,250 92,090 2,753 21.17 22.49 24.43 25.95 8.17
5 2 7 3,982,000 8,870 501 1.26 1.76 5.64 7.89 1.00
0 1 1 21,498,616 238,391 225 0.00 0.05 0.00 0.04 0.00
0 2 2 141,867,000 17,098,242 37,653 0.00 0.01 0.00 0.00 0.00
6 2 8 2,038,193 20,273 74 2.94 3.93 2.96 3.95 8.11
18 0 18 48,697,000 1,221,037 2,798 0.37 0.37 0.15 0.15 0.64
(inc Balearesmarker, Canariasmarker etc) 493 78 571 45,828,172 505,992 6,777 10.76 12.46 9.74 11.28 7.27
38 42 80 9,283,722 450,295 3,218 4.09 8.62 0.84 1.78 1.18
5 1 6 10,327,800 163,610 1,148 0.48 0.58 0.31 0.37 0.44
279 14 293 71,517,100 783,562 7,200 3.90 4.10 3.56 3.74 3.88
105 6 111 61,634,599 242,900 12,429 1.70 1.80 4.32 4.57 0.84


Blue Flag History

The Blue Flag was born 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.

The Blue Flag success

Since 1987 the Programme has year after year increased in numbers of Blue Flags. 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

The Blue Flag programme outside the European Union

In 2001 FEE decided to become a global organisation by changing the name from FEEE to FEE (Foundation for Environmental Education).

Several organisations and authorities outside the European Union have made applications to FEE, wishing for cooperation on spreading the Blue Flag Programme to non-European countries. FEE has been cooperating with UNEP and UN WTO on extending the Programme to areas outside Europe. The Blue Flag Programme has already been implemented in South Africa, Canada, Morocco, Tunisia, New Zealand and four countries in the Caribbean region. Aruba, Brazil and Malta are currently in the pilot phase of the Programme and other countries have started the implementation of the Blue Flag Programme: Jordan, Macedonia, Turks & Caicos Islands, Ukraine and United Arab Emirates.

FEE has made the overall decision that the beach criteria within a region should be similar. The beach criteria has however varied from region to region reflecting the specific environmental conditions of the region. As of 2006 an international set of criteria is being used with some variation within.

The Programme today

In 2009 over 3300 beaches and marinas globally were awarded the Blue Flag.

39 countries are currently participating in the Blue Flag Programme: Bahamasmarker, Belgiummarker, Bulgariamarker, Canadamarker, Croatiamarker, Cyprusmarker, Denmarkmarker,Dominican Republicmarker, Englandmarker, Finlandmarker, Francemarker, Germanymarker, Greecemarker, Icelandmarker, Irelandmarker, Italymarker, Latviamarker, Lithuaniamarker, Maltamarker, Montenegromarker, Moroccomarker, Netherlandsmarker, New Zealandmarker, Northern Irelandmarker, Norwaymarker, Polandmarker, Portugalmarker, Puerto Rico, Russiamarker, Romaniamarker, Scotlandmarker, Sloveniamarker, South Africa, Spainmarker, Swedenmarker, Tunisiamarker, Turkeymarker and Walesmarker.

Arubamarker, Brazilmarker, Turks & Caicos Islands and Ukrainemarker are currently running the programme in the pilot phase.

Criteria for awarding the 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
Water Quality
  • 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
Environmental Management
  • 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 plans 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
  • Map of the beach indicating different facilities must be displayed


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.
Blue Flag, 2007

Environmental Management

  • 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 litterbins 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.


Water Quality

  • Visually clean water (no oil, litter, sewage or other evidence of pollution).


References

  1. http://www.blueflag.org
  2. http://www.fee-international.org/


External links




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