Coast KZN

08 Oct 2016

Still flying the blue flag high

Arthi Gopi (Independent on Saturday)

Westbrook Beach, north of Durban, retains its Blue Flag status as one of the best beaches in the region. Photo Credit: Sibonelo Ngcobo (Independent on Saturday).

Superior standards win international status for local beaches

Ushaka and Westbrook are flying eThekwini’s flag high after retaining their coveted Blue Flag status for a second year in a row.

This year’s set of Blue Flag beaches, in which only the best beaches are given the internationally-coveted Blue Flag status, were announced at Marina Beach on the south coast yesterday.

Blue Flag status is an award given to beaches that meet a strict list of criteria such as excellent safety, amenities, cleanliness and environmental management.

While just two of eThekwini’s beaches have met the criteria, another six are being groomed to also take the flag in the future and were announced as “pilot beaches”.

“We welcome the Blue Flag beach accreditation, as this is in line with the city’s strategy to ensure our beaches are among the safest, cleanest and best maintained in South Africa,” said eThekwini municipality spokeswoman Tozi Mthethwa.

This is the third year since eThekwini municipality rejoined the international programme, after former city manager Michael Sutcliffe pulled out of the programme in 2008 when questioning the water quality criteria, and then said the city had its own method of determining water quality.

uShaka and Westbrook have maintained their flag status, while Amanzimtoti, Brighton Beach, Umgababa, Umdloti Main, Umdloti Tidal and Umhlanga Main are pilot beaches, which means they will be managed to reach the standards of full Blue Flag status.

“The city in conjunction with all its employees have put a lot of effort into ensuring we maintain our Blue Flag status. This is a great achievement for our city especially around this time of the year as we are approaching the busy festive season and it will be a positive boost for our economy,” said Mthethwa.

She said uMhlanga Beach only failed to be accredited from a pilot beach in previous years to full Blue Flag status due to renovations aimed at upgrading the beach.

Lance Anders, Blue Flag co-ordinator, said it could take up to four years before beaches were deemed to have met all the criteria. “We do want more beaches in eThekwini to become Blue Flag. In some cases pilot beaches take longer as the local municipality has to set aside money for upgrades and revamps,” he said.