The announcement was made at the Environmental Interpretation Center of Pedra do Sal, in Cascais, by the president of Associação Bandeira Azul Europe (ABAE), José Archer, who stressed, at the ceremony, that the number this year “is almost 15 times higher than the number of 25 years ago”.
“Thirty-five years after the first Blue Flag was hoisted, precisely in the municipality of Cascais, where we are located, we saw the announcement of the awarding of blue flags for 2022 to 393 beaches, 18 marinas and 20 ecotourism vessels, for a total of 431 blue flags awarded ”, said Jose Archer.
In the next bathing season, 21 more beaches, two more marinas and nine more ecotourism boats will fly the Blue Flag than last year.
The 393 beaches are spread over 102 municipalities, with emphasis on Vila Verde, Tábua and Alandroal, which applied for flags for beaches for the first time, and Cascais and Marinha Grande, which returned to the Blue Flag program this year.
This year, the “continuous and safe growth of river beaches” was once again highlighted, which, according to those responsible for the program, “shows the promoters' commitment to the quality of these bathing areas and the surrounding areas”.
In terms of marinas, the Nautical Recreation Center in Velas, the Lajes do Pico Nautical Recreation Center and the Machico Recreational Port are part of the Blue Flag program for the first time.
However, the biggest growth in this edition is the award for ecotourism vessels, which has nine more vessels, from five new operators, and, therefore, is now present in all regions, except for the Azores.
The official ceremony for the hoisting of the first Blue Flag on a coastal beach this year will take place on June 9, at Figueirinha beach, in Setúbal, followed on June 14 by the hoisting of the flag on the river beach of Adaúfe, in Braga, while the first flag to be hoisted in a marina will be in Porto Recreio de Oeiras, on June 17.
The distinguished coastal and river beaches are distributed across the North (82), Centre (50), Tejo (77), Alentejo (40), Algarve (86), Azores (42) and Madeira (16) regions.
In the North, the award was given to 73 coastal beaches and nine river beaches in 15 municipalities, with the region having three new beaches (Ponte do Bico, Aquário and Prado Faial), one re-entry (Ínsua) and one exit (Queijo).
This year the Centre has 31 coastal beaches and 19 river beaches with Blue Flag, in 23 municipalities, with Ronqueira and Praia Velha being two new beaches on the list, while São Pedro de Moel and Sandomil re-enter.
In the Tagus area there are now 77 distinguished beaches, 63 of which are coastal and 14 are riverside. They are divided into 21 municipalities, with 13 beaches re-entering the list.
In the Alentejo, the award has been given to 40 beaches - 32 coastal and eight river, spread over 12 municipalities, with the entry of two beaches in the group.
This year, the Algarve has 86 award-winning beaches, all of them coastal, with 13 of the 16 municipalities included, with Dona Ana beach, in Lagos, leaving the award-winning list.
In the Azores archipelago there are 42 distinguished coastal beaches this year, covering 10 municipalities, one having re-entered (the Balearic area of Santa Cruz) and four leaving.
In the Madeira archipelago, there are 16 Blue Flag coastal beaches spread across eight municipalities.
In 2022, the celebrations of the 35th anniversary of the Blue Flag program continue, with the motto “Help the Sea Tell Another Story”.
To mark its 35th anniversary, the program also presents a strategy that “appeals to the collective conscience of the Portuguese” and “motivates them by saying that it is still possible to change the end of this story”.
According to José Archer, the theme of ecosystem recovery also continues in 2022, “since it is not exhausted in a year” and because the FEE (Fundação de Educação Ambiental) and ABAE are aligned with the United Nations Decade for Ecosystem Recovery.
“GAIA 2030 is the strategy developed by FEE to address the three biggest environmental threats over the next decade: climate change, loss of biodiversity and environmental pollution”, he stressed.