The Blue Flag Programme for beaches and marinas is run by the international, non-governmental, non-profit organisation FEE (the Foundation for Environmental Education). The Blue Flag Programme started in France in 1985. It has been implemented in Europe since 1987 and in areas outside of Europe since 2001, when South Africa joined. Today, Blue Flag has become a truly global programme, with an ever-increasing number of countries participating in it.

The Blue Flag Programme promotes sustainable development in freshwater and marine areas. It challenges local authorities and beach operators to achieve high standards in the four categories of: water quality, environmental management, environmental education and safety. Over the years, the Blue Flag has become a highly respected and recognised eco-label working to bring together the tourism and environmental sectors at local, regional, and national levels.

The criteria are categorized as either imperative or guideline. Most beach criteria are imperative, i.e. the beach must comply with them in order to be awarded Blue Flag accreditation. If they are guideline criteria, it is preferable that they are complied with, but not mandatory.  


Environmental Education And Information

1. Information about the Blue Flag programme must be displayed. (i)

2. Environmental education activities must be offered and promoted to beach users. (i)

3. Information about bathing water quality must be displayed. (i)

4. Information relating to local eco-systems and environmental phenomena must be displayed. (i)

5. A map of the beach indicating different facilities must be displayed. (i)

6. A code of conduct that reflects appropriate laws governing the use of the beach and surrounding areas must be displayed. (i)


Water Quality

7. The beach must fully comply with the water quality sampling and frequency requirements. (i)

8. The beach must fully comply with the standards and requirements for water quality analysis. (i)

9. No industrial, waste-water or sewage-related discharges should affect the beach area. (i)

10. The beach must fully comply with the Blue Flag requirements for the microbiological parameter faecal colibacteria (E.coli) and faecal enterococci/streptococci. (i)

11. The beach must fully comply with the Blue Flag requirements for the following physical-chemical parameters. (i)


Environmental Management

12. The local authority/beach operator should establish a beach management committee. (g)

13. The local authority/beach operator must comply with all regulations affecting the location and operation of the beach. (i)

14. The beach must be clean. (i)

15. Algae vegetation or natural debris should be left on the beach. (i)

16. Waste disposal bins/containers must be available at the beach in adequate numbers and they must be regularly maintained. (i)


17. Facilities for the separation of recyclable waste materials should be available at the beach. (i)

18. An adequate number of toilet or restroom facilities must be provided. (i)

19. The toilet or restroom facilities must be kept clean. (i)

20. The toilet or restroom facilities must have controlled sewage disposal. (i)

21. On the beach there will be no unauthorised camping or driving and no dumping. (i)

22. Access to the beach by dogs and other domestic animals must be strictly controlled. (i)

23. All buildings and beach equipment must be properly maintained. (i)

24. Coral reefs in the vicinity of the beach must be monitored (where applicable). (i)

25. A sustainable means of transportation should be promoted in the beach area. (g)


Safety And Services

26. An adequate number of lifeguards and/or lifesaving equipment must be available at the beach. (i)

27. First aid equipment must be available on the beach. (i)

28. Emergency plans to cope with pollution risks must be in place. (i)

29. There must be management of different users and uses of the beach so as to prevent conflicts and accidents. (i)

30. There must be safety measures in place to protect users of the beach. (i)

31. A supply of drinking water should be available at the beach. (g)

32. At least one Blue Flag beach in each municipality must have access and facilities provided for the physically disabled. (i)