Tourists cool off at Tel Aviv beach.
(photo credit: Niv Elis)
Just days before the kickoff of this year’s swimming season on Thursday, 21 Israeli beaches and two marinas this week received an international accolade for environmental excellence.
The beaches and marinas in question have received a “Blue Flag,” a voluntary eco-label awarded to more than 3,850 beaches and marinas in 48 countries through the Copenhagen- based NGO Foundation for Environmental Education, which also runs a number of other global environmental programs. In Israel, the winning beaches are selected on behalf of the Foundation for Environmental Education, through local NGO EcoOcean.
The 21 chosen beaches include Hukuk Beach on Lake Kinneret; Dado in Haifa; Chanz, Onot, Amfy, Herzl, Sironit North, Sironit South, Lagoon-Argaman and Poleg beaches in Netanya; Metzizim and Jerusalem beaches in Tel Aviv; HaKachol Beach in Rishon Lezion; Mei Ami, Oranim, Lido, Kshatot, Yod Alef, Riveria and the separate swimming beaches in Ashdod; and Hash’hafim Beach in Eilat. The winning marinas are those in Herzliya and Tel Aviv, according to EcoOcean.
With an aim of stimulating environmental awareness among beach goers and the world’s seaside communities, the Blue Flag program ensures compliance with international standards for bathing quality and provision of necessary services, EcoOcean said. Beaches must meet a number of strict criteria in four categories: environmental education, safety and services, water quality, and environmental management, the organization added.
The number of beaches to receive Blue Flags this year is more than double those that received the recognition in 2013.
Last year, nine Israeli beaches and two Israeli marinas earned Blue Flags – Dado Beach in Haifa; Onot, Poleg and Sironit beaches in Netanya; Hash’hafim Beach in Eilat; Lido and Yod Alef beaches in Ashdod; and Jerusalem and Metzizim beaches in Tel Aviv, as well as the Herzliya and Tel Aviv marinas.
“The expansion of Blue Flag activities in Israel is truly good news for the preservation of beaches, marinas, and the marine environment in Israel,” said EcoOcean CEO Amotz Degani.
“This certificate of excellence ensures coastal management according to strict international standards and that beach visitors will benefit from a variety of services available to all, such as high quality cleaning and maintenance. We welcome the beaches and marinas that have received the flag and expect that, together with them, we will be able to see more beaches in Israel waving the flag in the coming years.”