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Horta

Blue Flag enhances “visibility and prestige” of beach areas, marines and recreational ports

The Regional Director for Sea Affairs assured in Horta on Tuesday that the Blue Flag enhances the “visibility and prestige” of beach areas, marines and the recreational ports awarded with that flag.

The statement was made by Frederico Cardigos during the signing ceremony of a cooperation protocol “2011 Blue Flag Programme” with the European Blue Flag Association, which he presided over on behalf of the Regional Secretariat for the Environment and the Sea.

On the occasion, the Regional Director for Maritime Affairs acknowledged that the shortage of lifeguards and the impossibility of smaller beach areas generating the financial resources deemed necessary to comply with international rules has been an obstacle to increasing the number of Blue Flag applications on some islands. 

However, stated Frederico Cardigos, the situation is changing as these managing entities have “realised that if have a Blue Flag, it will eventually bring financial gains” that will allow them to bear those costs.

Currently, the Blue Flag is flown at five marinas and 25 beaches and beach areas on the islands of Santa Maria, São Miguel, Terceira and Faial, but the Regional Director for Sea Affairs expects that this award may be extended to other islands in 2011 since the islands of Pico and Graciosa have taken the necessary steps to become eligible applicants in the short term.

The protocol, signed at the Sea Centre on Tuesday, stipulates the mutual obligations under the “2011 Blue Flag Programme,” which includes the appointment of the Regional Government, through the Regional Secretariat for the Environment and the Sea, as representative of the award in the Region.

For the Regional Director for Sea Affairs, this relation, which has existed since 1999, has stimulated a steady growth of the number of awards granted and the certification of environmental and social services of the Region’s beach water.
The Blue Flag campaign was launched at a European level in 1987, being integrated in the programme of the European Day of Environment.

Currently designated as Blue Flag Programme, this initiative of FEE (Foundation for Environmental Education) counts on the support of the European Commission and intends to the raise the awareness of citizens in general, and decision-makers in particular, for the need to protect the marine and costal environment as well as encourage the organisation of action to solve problems in these areas.

In Portugal, the organisation of the Blue Flag Programme is supervised by the European Blue Flag Association (ABAE) whereas in the Azores this initiative is coordinated by the Regional Secretariat for the Environment and the Sea.
The Blue Flag is an environmental quality certificate that distinguishes the effort undertaken by various entities to improve the marine, costal, river and lake environments, being annually awarded to the beach areas and marinas that meet the criteria in the areas of environmental education and information, management and safety, water quality and costal environment.
With regard to beach areas, 27 criteria are considered, of which 23 are mandatory; in the case of marinas and recreational ports, 22 criteria are taken into consideration, of which 18 are mandatory.

The Blue Flag is internationally recognised as an eco-label, mainly by the European Commission and the United Nation Environment Programme. Since 1987, the number of Blue Flags has been increasing, such as the number of countries joining this programme. Presently, the Blue Flag Programme is being developed in 36 European countries, South Africa, Morocco, New Zeeland, Canada and in the Caribbean.

The operating structure of the Programme in Portugal as well as its decision-making process are based on the collaboration between public and private entities with responsibility or interest in beach areas.

The Blue Programme was implemented in the Azores in 1988, the year when the first three flags were hoisted in the Azores. From then onwards, there has been a positive evolution in the situation of beach areas, demonstrated by the number of awarded Blue Flags, which is the result of investments in the resolution of pollution causes in coastal areas and beach waters, in the reinforcement of the beach water quality monitoring network, in the improvement of access and infrastructures, in safety and beach cleaning as well as in information and awareness actions for users.


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Official government press-releases presented in all foreign languages interfaces of the Azorean Government Portal (Portal do Governo dos Açores) are a sub-set of the government's official press-releases daily output and are chosen for translation and publication on the foreign language interfaces based on audience segmentation criteria. The entire collection of the Azorean government press-releases is available in portuguese, here, from the GACS Press Office site.

 
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