Biodiversity key to marine protection, says meeting of Blue Flag operators

Blue Flag national operators met in Tenby, Wales, at the end of October to share their work and discuss the growth and strategy of the programme moving forward.

An important topic for representatives from 46 countries worldwide was the need to increase awareness of marine protected areas and biodiversity that is important for healthy living as well as tourism. This was supported by Anthony Rogers, Biodiversity Officer for Pembrokeshire, one of the hosts of the meeting.

Sophie Bachet, the International Blue Flag Programme Director, also shared successes and developments over the past year. She said: “These meetings are very important for exchangingexperience andinspiringolder as well as new countries. The Blue Flag network is now the biggest, as well as oldest, eco-label in the world for beaches and marinas, with more than 45 countries running the programme.”

She added: “The latest country to have fully implemented Blue Flag is Serbia and Aruba, Israel, Mexico and Mauritius are piloting the programme.”

Another important topic of the meeting was the need for disabled facilities on Blue Flag beaches to be more detailed and specific. “We would like to consult and cooperate with an international organisation for disabled people to ensure their needs are part of our criteria,” said Sophie Bachet.

Among other topics, a public survey about the Blue Flag was also discussed, as was how to improve the Blue Flag smart phone application. The National Operators Meeting in Wales was hosted by the FEEmember organisationKeep Wales Tidy and the Welsh Government.

The famous Hollywood actor Michael Sheen, Keep Wales Tidy's ambassador, sent a warm welcome video to all Blue Flag National Operators for Blue Flag's 25th anniversary: