An impressive 80% of TransEurope marinas collectively based throughout France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium and the Netherlands were awarded the world’s leading eco-label for the 2013 season by the Blue Flag International Jury.
Special congratulations to Marina Port Zélande who this year proudly accepted the distinction for the 20th consecutive year.
Promoted and developed by the Federation for Environmental Education (FEE), now an NGO with representation in over 50 countries, the Blue Flag is the oldest voluntary initiative campaigning for tourist sustainable development within coastal areas.
The Blue Flag model works to help strengthen “the development of permanent comparative benefits as opposed to temporary competitive advantages”.
The programme is based around on strict criteria focussing on the areas of:
- Water Quality
- Environmental Education and Information
- Environmental Management
- Safety and Other Services
Over the last 25 years, this international participatory project has worked to perfect its methods, incorporating more rigorous measures and a more demanding level of involvement from applicants. The Blue Flag aims to develop, define and stimulate global quality sustainability, where the principal objectives go beyond business efficiency or market competition and instead concentrates on legality, accessibility, global sustainability, health, informed participation and collaborative progress and network cooperation.
Marinas have a very important role to play in correctly managing this naturally fragile space. Boating comes with an array of toxic contaminants – from fuel and oily bilge water to anti-foul and dissolvent, however a careful communication of correct practices and employing adequate measures like thorough rubbish and dangerous waste collection services, start to minimise boating’s impact on the environment.
Many seasoned blue-water cruisers report having seen shocking rises in the levels of rubbish floating in the oceans over the last few decades; others lament the sad deterioration of popular diving spots and diminishing wildlife around developed coastal areas through loss of habitat and noise and light pollution.
Environmental education is then a key part of marina management and there are many forms that this can take such as informative exhibitions, proactive events such as clean-ups, public talks and conferences or simply showing a good example by the way in which the marina staff act around the facility.
The manager of Marina Port Zélande, Peter de Regt received special recognition this year where the Dutch marina has met Blue Flag criteria now for an impressive 20 consecutive years.
With another notable trajectory, this year Jachthaven Wetterwille received the Blue Flag for the fifteenth year in a row. Manager Mieke Vleugels explained how in the marina they “try to encourage environmental awareness among our berth holders”; going a step further than most, in Jachthaven Wetterwille, they are also part of a special group of Blue Flag marinas that acts as a think tank and takes the lead in adopting the most modern best practices. “We are devising a three-year plan to make sure all evolutions and refurbishments in the marina will have a minimum of negative impact on our surroundings.”
In Spain, as part of the marina’s environmental education programme, Puerto Calero invited families to an Open Day that celebrated water sports and the environment, encouraging a responsible attitude towards the marine sphere with free activities, informative displays, skills workshops and ecological-awareness games for children.
The Blue Flag organization released a press release this year recognising the “Increasing quality of Blue Flag sites worldwide”, which in addition to the ever-greater numbers of successful applicants, strikes a very positive note for the level of interest around the world in responsible eco-management.
For more information, read visit the official Blue Flag site