These are the 48 Spanish beaches with a Black Flag due to pollution

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Black flag Spanish beaches

After inspecting more than 8,000 kilometres of Spanish coastline, Ecologistas en Acción has presented the Banderas Negras 2024 report. This year, 48 Black Flags have been awarded to beaches, two per province or autonomous city. A Black Flag is awarded for pollution and another for poor environmental management of Spain’s coasts.

The high concentration of plastic (pellets), accumulation of waste or excessive urbanisation along the coast are some of the reasons for the award of these flags. The 48 beaches are classified according to:

  • Coastal urbanisation (15 beaches)
  • Discharges and inadequate purification systems (16 beaches)
  • Chemical, light and/or noise pollution (6 beaches)
  • Damage to historical and cultural heritage (1 beach)
  • Accumulation of marine debris (3 beaches)
  • Dredged material and unfounded port expansions (3 beaches)
  • Impact on biodiversity (4 beaches)
  • Urbanisation and ‘touristification’

This year, Ecologistas en Acción has drawn particular attention to the problems of tourism and urbanisation of the coast. Especially in the Canary Islands, tourist activity is very intensive, leading to large amounts of waste and pollution that the island cannot process.

Examples of pollution

After almost 20 editions, the report concludes that the high concentration of plastic is the biggest environmental problem on the Spanish coast. An example of this is the discharge of plastic pellets that hit the Galician coast at the beginning of this year. Click here to open the interactive map of the Black Flags. 

Black flags per province

Andalucia (10 Black Flags)

Huelva

Pollution: Ría de Huelva
Bad management: El Portil

Cadiz

Pollution: Costa de Trafalgar
Bad management: Tarifa

Malaga

Pollution: Plastic packaging during the night of San Juan
Poor management: Irregularities in permits for chiringuitos

Granada

Pollution: Playa Granada and Poniente
Poor management: Playa de Castell de Ferro

Almeria

Pollution: Playa Quitapellejos-Palomares
Poor management: Playa de “El Lancón” in Carboneras

Asturias (2 Black Flags)

Pollution: Remediation system on the coast of eastern Asturias
Poor management: New dyke project in Figueres port

Cantabria (2 Black Flags)

Pollution: Emissions from Solvay company on Playa de Usgo
Poor management: Inadequate treatment system of EDAR San Román de la Llanilla

Catalonia (6 Black Flags)

Tarragona

Pollution: Pellets on the Costa Dorada

Poor management: Project Camino de Ronda at Savinosa preventorium

Baycrest Wealth

Barcelona
Pollution: Three chimneys of Sant Adrià del Besòs
Poor management: Artificial Maresme coastline

Girona
Pollution: Multiple locations on the Costa Brava
Bad management: La Farella

Ceuta (2 Black Flags)

Pollution: Proximity to LICES6310002 Monte Hacho
Poor management: Neglect of heritage on playa and cala del Desnarigado

Basque Country (4 Black Flags)

Bizkaia
Pollution: Municipality of Leioa for not fully restoring the Lamiako swamp
Poor management: Ditto

Gipuzkoa
Pollution: Getaria
Poor management: Isla de La Concha

Galicia (6 Black Flags)

Pontevedra
Pollution: Municipality of Cangas for continuous discharges in Ría de Aldán
Bad management: Xunta de Galicia for promoting polluting industries

A Coruña

Pollution: Sogarisa
Poor management: Official Chamber of Mining of Galicia

Lugo
Contamination: Alcoa red mud reservoir
Poor management: Xunta de Galicia for poor management of environmental disaster involving plastic pellets

Balearic Islands (2 Black Flags)

Pollution: Playa Talamanca
Bad management: Cala Xarraca

Canary Islands (4 Black Flags)

Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Pollution: Wastewater discharges
Poor management: Hotel La Tejita and Hotel Cuna del Alma
Las Palmas
Pollution: Playa Blanca
Poor management: Parque Natural de Dunas de Corralejo

Melilla (2 Black Flags)

Pollution: Wastewater discharges into the Bay of Melilla
Poor management: Cruise ship terminal construction project

Valencia (6 Black Flags)

Alicante

Pollution: Barranco and Playa del Amerador
Poor management: Bay of Alicante
Valencia
Pollution: Coastal area of ​​Red Natura 2000
Poor management: Massive sand replenishment in Parc Natural de l’Albufera
Castellon
Pollution: Coastal strip Grao-Camino Serratella
Poor management: Playa de L’Estany-Capicorb

Region of Murcia (2 Black Flags)

Pollution: Bay of Portmán and Sierra Minera
Poor management: Ditto

Ecologistas en Acción calls for urgent action to tackle environmental problems on the Spanish coast and move towards more sustainable management of its coastlines. The purpose of these assessments is to inform the public about the environmental problems on the Spanish coast. In addition, the intention is to motivate governments and other parties involved to implement improvements.

Blue Flag

The positive counterpart of the Black Flag is the Blue Flag. These awards are given annually to beaches and marinas that meet strict criteria in the areas of environment, education, etc security and accessibility. This program is administered by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), an international non-profit organisation. To receive a Blue Flag, beaches and marinas must meet requirements such as good water quality, the presence of sanitary facilities, effective waste management, safety measures and an environmental management.

Despite the strict criteria, there are concerns about the objectivity of the Blue Flag award. Local or national organisations responsible for awarding the Blue Flags may be influenced by local politics or business interests. Furthermore, critics argue that the criteria place more emphasis on physical and safety aspects than on broader ecological issues, meaning that a Blue Flag does not always provide a complete picture of the ecological health of a beach or harbour.

Read here the full report about the Black Flags from Ecologistas en Acción.

ASSSA

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