Last modified: 2006-04-22 by rob raeside
Keywords: blue flag | beach quality | fee | feee |
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The Blue Flag is awarded by the Foundation for Environmental Education in
The Blue Flag is a widely recognised eco-label. This is awarded to beaches and marinas where environmental protection is a high priority in site management and information encourages care for the environment.
The award of the Blue Flag is presently based on 27 specific criteria for beaches and 16 specific criteria for marinas. Though the specific requirements are different for the two types of sites, they cover the same four aspects:
Some criteria are imperative whereas other are guideline criteria.
All Blue Flags are only awarded for one season at a time. By renewing the
award each season the Campaign ensures that the beaches and marinas are
constantly living up to the criteria. If some of the imperative criteria are not
fulfilled during the season or the conditions change, the Blue Flag will be
Pascal Gross, 14 August 2000
The flag started its career as a purely European symbol, though, and at
first it was a simple white logo on blue field as shown by the image at the top
of this page.
But the need to identify the year each flag led to changes in the design of the
flag. Its basic elements remained (the logo and the colours), but some secondary
elements were added.
Jorge Candeias, 13 May 2005
The Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) is a non-profit, non-governmental organisation consisting of Member organisations representing 25 European countries.
The program of the European Blue Flag has been working since 15 years.
The countries participating to the program are:
Belgium | Bulgaria | Croatia | Cyprus | Denmark | Estonia | Finland | France | Germany | Greece | Ireland | Italy | Latvia | | Lithuania | Netherlands | Norway | Portugal | Slovenia | South Africa | Spain | Sweden | Turkey | United Kingdom
More than 2,400 beaches and marinas are now participating in the programme.
Iceland, Romania, Morocco, Montenegro and the Caribbean are working on establishing the Blue Flag Campaign.
Santiago Tazon & Jan Mertens, 19 June 2003
booklet published the Blue Flag Organization says that the "Blue Flag
campaign started in Europe in 1987 with the purpose of encouraging beaches to
comply with the EU Bathing Water Directive", and that the project has developed
ever since, and as of 2005 the Foundation for Environmental Education, the
campaign's managing organization, includes members in 38 countries and an
International Jury with representatives of:
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)
International Lifesaving Federation (ILS)
International Council of Marine Industry Associations (ICOMIA)
World Conservation Union (IUCN)
European Union for coastal Conservation (EUCC)
Environmental Education Expert
It is a "symbol of quality recognized by tourists and tour operators", and therefore it is not a signal flag, but an award flag. Still according to the booklet, as "of 2006 there were over 3200 sites awarded with the Blue Flag in 36 countries including countries in Europe, countries in the Caribbean, Morocco, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa."
A previous edition stated that as "of 2005 there were over 3000 sites awarded with the Blue Flag in 33 countries including 26 countries in Europe, countries in the Caribbean, Morocco, Canada and South Africa". However, at http://www.fee-international.org/Programmes/blueflag, it says that the Blue Flag was "awarded in 2007 to more than 3200 beaches and marinas in 37 countries across Europe, Morocco, South Africa, Canada, New Zealand and the Caribbean". Note removal and re-addition of New Zealand; cf. http://www.blueflag.org.nz/.
The criteria for awarding the Blue Flag are updated yearly, "designed to work with the relevant national, regional and local legislation of each country", and have been "adapted and expanded to encompass issues encountered in areas outside of Europe", covering issues of beach and marina "environmental information and education, water quality, safety and services and environmental management", says the booklet. Some of these criteria, namely those concerning safety and area uses, may concern the use of signal flags, but the booklet does not expressly mentions that aspect. In countries or regions with where beach safety regulations prescribe flag usage, then the Blue Flag can only be awarded to beaches using them accordingly.
According to the booklet, candidate beach and marinas that "have been accepted by the International Jury are awarded with the Blue Flag for one season". These candidates are pre-reviewed by each national jury yearly; the International Jury meets twice a year to review applications «from different areas of the world. The booklet also states that "Control visits are made during the Blue Flag season by both national and international controllers to assure that all criteria are being met. If problems are found the flag is withdrawn until they are fixed. If the problem is very serious or if the problem is not fixed within a given period of time then the flag is withdrawn for the rest of the season."
António Martins-Tuválkin, 12 September 2007
The FEE just e-mailed me to tell that the Blue Flag is not limited to marine
sites. Sites at lakes and rivers are awarded as well, but with the limitation
already mentioned: they have to apply for it themselves.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 18 September 2007
image by Jorge Candeias
Note that the flag, as the example shown on the top of this page (after a picture published in 20 Minutes, French edition, on 12 May 2002) should have inscribed in white characters in the canton the year for which it was granted and in the lower hoist the acronym Feee [or Fee] and copyright sign. That is because the flag is granted for one year only, and the next year the competition starts anew.
In Croatia the year is written with a dot after the year (e.g. 2002.), which is the grammatical proper form in Croatian.
Only the flags that are really hoisted on the beaches and other appropriate sites contain the year and acronym. Small table flags seen in hotel receptions and such places, as well as most of the promotional posters explaining the flag, do not contain those numbers/acronym.
Željko Heimer, 22 May 2002
image by Jorge Candeias
The Foundation for Environmental Education in Europe morphed into the
Foundation for Environmental Education in order to accommodate non-European
countries. The abbreviation therefore has reduced to Fee on the flag.
Ivan Sache, 30 May 2005
image by Jorge Candeias, 24 March 2006
An earlier version of the FEEE
beach quality blue flag. The Público newspaper published in July 29, 2003
an archive photo of one of these flags
flying. The photo shows what appears to be the reverse side of the flag. The
numbers are mirrored, the logo is just as mirrored, etc. I wouldn't be so sure,
however: the photo could have been mirrored to fit better in the design of that
newspaper page. Anyway, this pretty much confirms my memory: the circle of stars
is there, the numbers are very much like the ones I drew. The colour is still
uncertain, though, since this photo is black and white, and the stars are
Jorge Candeias, 14 November 2005, 24 March 2006
I can confirm the existence of this flag with a "2007" on
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 11 September 2007
Starting 2003, individual boat owners can earn a Blue Pennant. First in Belgium is Ms. Elisabeth Lemmens of the Antwerp Willemdok yacht harbour. I saw this pennant very briefly on TV news. A Blue Flag costs 125 euros whereas a Blue Pennant costs 8 euros.
Jan Mertens, 19 June 2003