In first, ministry to rank nation’s beaches

New program called Blue-Green Flag - inspired by the international Blue Flag program - will ranks beaches according to various criteria.

Illetes beach (photo credit:  Mike Benn)
Illetes beach
(photo credit: Mike Benn)
The Environmental Protection Ministry will begin rating beaches on a scale of zero to four for the first time, it said on Wednesday. The ministry launched a new program called Blue-Green Flag, which was inspired by the international Blue Flag program.
The ministry will inspect beaches weekly starting on Wednesday and the rankings will be published every two weeks until the end of the bathing season in October. The criteria will be expanded ahead of next year’s bathing season which begins before Pessah.
The beaches will be ranked based on the following criteria: water quality, cleanliness of the beach, parking, disabled access, coastal facilities, sewage connection, public opinion, and the ministries’ opinions.
The ministry developed the criteria in conjunction with the national inspector in the Health Ministry and the head of the business and bathing beaches registration branch in the Interior Ministry.
According to its Web site, “the Blue Flag is a voluntary, eco-label awarded to over 3450 beaches and marinas in 41 countries across Europe, South Africa, Morocco, Tunisia, New Zealand, Brazil, Canada and the Caribbean.”
“The Blue Flag Programme is owned and run by the independent non-profit organization Foundation for Environmental Education. The Blue Flag works towards sustainable development at beaches/marinas through strict criteria dealing with water quality, environmental education and information, environmental management, and safety and other services.”
Few of Israel’s beaches would currently meet the Blue Flag’s criteria as it demands that no sewage reach the beaches and that driving on the beaches be strictly controlled, among many other things. The country is consistently plagued with sewage leaks into the ocean near its coastline and people continue to drive recklessly on the beaches.