Spain boasts some of the best beaches in Europe with the cleanest playas awarded blue flags for their clear waters and pristine stretches of sand.

But a black flag system is in place to earmark those beaches which fall short of standards and this year 48 beaches have been identified as being polluted across Spain, with 10 in Andalucia alone.

Ecologistas en accion undertakes a yearly review of the health of Spain’s 8000km coastline, awarding black flags to beaches at a rate of two per coastal province.

black flag canos de meca
Two black flags are awarded to each coastal province in Spain

Beaches are given a black mark for problems including water pollution, mismanagement of urban planning, industrial mismanagement and erosion.

Andalucia, which has five coastal provinces, has been awarded 2 black flags per province, issued for reasons ranging from pollution and beaches with ‘mismanaged’ chiringuitos, to seas that have been overexploited.

In Almeria, the Natura 2000 protected marine areas of Islote de San Andrés, Cabo de Gata-Níjar, Roquetas de Mar, and Punta Entinas-Sabinar were awarded a black flag for mismanagement, due to the high incidence of illegal fishing. 

“We have only selected the very worst abuses and there should be a lot more,” said spokesman Clara Mejias.

The biggest problem in Spain is with wastewater discharges and poor purification, which accounts for 31% of black flag cases.

Breakdown of Black Flags in Andalucia:


Ria de Huelva

El Portil


EDAR Playa de El Carmen de Barbete

Playa de Los Lances en Tarifa


Contaminated areas: Maro-La Cascada Cliffs, Burriana Beach, Calahonda Beach, Torrecilla Beach and Chucho-Chillar Beach

Mismanaged Chiringuitos:

Playas de Málaga Playa de La Malagueta: Chiringuito El Cachalote.

Playa de La Malagueta: Chiringuito Oasis Playa

Playa de la Malagueta: Chiringuito Picasso

Playa de la Malagueta: Chiringuito Mediterráneo

Playa de El Morche: Chiringuito Paco

Playa de Liendres: Chiringuito Cordón Verde Litoral

Playa Calahonda: Chiringuito; La Luna Beach

Playa del Cable: Chiringuitos; Villapadierna

Playa del Realejo: Chiringuito Realejo

Playa Guadalmina: Chiringuito Seabeach Ventura

Playa de las chapas: Chiringuito, OMARAJOR

Playa Guadalmansa: Chiringuitos IKOS (Estepona)


Playa de Poniente de Motril

Cliffs and protected areas between Almuñecar and Salobreña 


Sewage Discharge between the Port of Aguadulce and the Port of Roquetas de Sea

Illegal fishing in Natura 2000 Protected areas: Islote de San Andrés, Cabo de Gata-Níjar, Roquetas de Mar, and Punta Entinas-Sabinar


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