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THE eThekwini Municipality will be applying to include six beaches under the Pilot Blue Flag Programme. The announcement comes following the tabling of the Community Services Committee report at an executive committee meeting held on Tuesday, 18 June. uMhlanga Main Beach will be included under the Pilot Blue Flag Programme as well as Vetchies Beach, Anstey’s Beach, North Beach and South Beach.
In a statement the City said the Blue Flag programme strives to promote sustainable development in the coastal areas through high water quality standards, safety standards, environmental management standards and environmental education. The programme further works to bring together the tourism and environmental sector at the local, regional and national levels, the report notes.
Mandla Nsele, the city’s acting head of communications said: “To gain Blue Flag status, a local authority has to apply to register and be nominated to be granted Blue Flag status or to be registered as a Pilot Blue Flag Beach. In order to apply to be nominated, each beach must comply with 33 criteria around this programme. The criteria for Blue Flag status covers four main areas namely water quality, environmental information and education campaigns, environmental management and safety and services. The Blue Flag status is valid for one year and needs to be applied for and granted annually at a cost of R25 440. A Pilot Blue Flag programme costs R21 200,” they said.
According to the report the local authority has a five year time frame to uplift its pilot status once approved by the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa to achieve full Blue Flag status.
“Therefore, given the benefits of achieving Blue Flag status, the report states that authority be granted to the Parks, Recreation and Culture Department to make applications to include a further six beaches under the pilot Blue Flag Programme. Authority was also being sought to renew the existing Blue Flag beach status for two beaches,” said Nsele.
What’s more an education campaign is being simultaneously run alongside the Blue Flag programme by the Parks, Recreation and Culture Department, targeting schools to emphasise education on environmental issues and the preservation of natural heritage.