Blue Flag Beaches in the Maltese Islands
The Blue Flag is an international Quality Award that is given to beaches that are managed through sustainable beach operations, have excellent bathing water quality, offer safety and services, and where environmental activities are organised on the beach.
Beach operations have to abide by 32 standard criteria established by the Blue Flag Programme that is administered by the Federation for Environmental Education (FEE) from Denmark. In 2016 the award was given to 4,154 beaches worldwide, ten of which were awarded to the Maltese Islands. Malta found its place on the world Blue Flag map in 2009 when St George’s Bay in Paceville was the first beach in Malta to be awarded the Blue Flag status.
The Malta Tourism Authority is currently managing eight beaches and assisting a further eight beaches managed by the Ministry for Gozo and the Gaia Foundation. An additional two beaches are being managed to Blue Flag standards by private resorts and were awarded with a Blue Flag Award. To achieve the award a beach must abide to 100% of the standard criteria. Should a beach falls short of 100% but reaches 70% or higher, then that particular beach would be awarded the Beach Of Quality. This year, the Beach of Quality has been awarded for the first time to Hondoq ir-Rummien and Marsalforn bays, both in Gozo.
Accessibility on Beaches
Having more accessible beaches is once again a priority for the MTA, in fact this year two wooden pathways amounting to 150m were added at Ghadira Bay (Mellieha) and additional sand buggies that can take wheelchair bound persons are now available on a number of beaches. These beach wheelchairs are available at Ghadira Bay, Armier Bay, Golden Bay, Pretty Bay, St. George’s Bay and Gozo’s Ramla Bay, Hondoq Bay and Marsalforn Bay. The beach wheelchairs can be used to move about in the sand and also float in the sea. Furthermore, two horizontal lifts (chair hoists) have been installed at Qawra Point and Exiles in Sliema to provide better access to the sea.
Waste separation on beaches – Litter Free Beaches
In an effort for cleaner beaches, the MTA is continuing with its campaign of Litter-Free Beaches and waste separation on site. Educational awareness is ongoing in schools and additional waste separation bins have been installed on more beaches. For the first time the bin liners are of the same colour of the bin compartment making it easier for people to separate.
The black bin liners receive the organic waste and are being collected by the Cleansing Services Department (CSD) and delivered to the waste landfill at Maghtab. The yellow compartment receives metal, the red compartment for glass while the blue compartment is for plastic. The three coloured bin liner bags are collected by Green MT and taken in one truck to Sant’ Antnin recycling plant to be separated and recycled accordingly.
Butts Off Campaign
Also ongoing in parallel with the Litter Free campaign is the Butts Off campaign. Cigarette butts and charcoal fragments are a problem on beaches as they are too small to be collected by the weekly sand sifting operations. New ashtray pots have been introduced in access points to encourage smokers to dispose of the cigarette ends before they enter the beach. Moreover, cone ashtrays are being distributed by beach supervisors on all MTA managed sandy beaches, while pocket ashtrays are being distributed on rocky beaches. Beach supervisors keep encouraging proper use of all beach assets, ultimately, for the benefit of all beach users.
The Safety Flag System
The safety flag system has been adjusted to conform to the new system of the International Lifesaving Federation, in use worldwide. The flags are in a rectangular form and the colours indicate: the red over yellow flag demarcates the lifesaving boundary, green for calm water, yellow for medium hazard, purple indicates the presence of pests (such as stinging jellyfish), red for high hazard, double red indicates that the water is closed for the public and the lifeguards may not risk their lives to enter the rough sea.
Free Wi-Fi on Beaches
Another first on many of Malta’s beaches is free WIFI which can be accessed in three simple steps after activating the mobile’s WIFI, namely; select MCAfreeWIFI, fill in details – agree, submit and enjoy!
Please help us keep YOUR beach safe and clean!
Senior Executive, Product Planning Directorate
Ms Pauline Dingli