14 Jun, 2024 @ 14:13
2 mins read

THESE are the 48 beaches handed ‘black flags’ for pollution, mass tourism and over development

ECOLOGISTS in Action has handed their unwanted black flags to 48 beaches across the Spanish coast. 

‘Black flag’ status recognises coastal resorts for pollution, over development, gentrification and poor management of wastewater. 

The ‘award’ is given by the environmental group and this year’s list includes popular resorts like Tarifa, Tarragona and Ibiza. 

According to the NGO, the Canary Islands are one of the worst affected areas.

READ MORE: Six ‘black flags’ handed out to beaches and coastal areas suffering from pollution and ‘mismanagement’ in eastern Spain

Almost 50 beaches across the country have been given the unsavoury ‘award’
Photo: Ecologistas en Accion

This comes as no surprise given the archipelagos mass protests against overtourism. 

Spokeswoman for Ecologists in Action, Ana Aldarias, told the i: “Obviously, Spain owes a lot to tourism. 

“But it generates a great deal of material which causes contamination which it cannot assimilate. The ecological footprint of the Canary Islands corresponds to a region 27 times bigger.”

She suggest the authorities offer a ‘sustainable’ form of tourism which ‘respects the environment’, ‘avoids gentrification’ and ‘kicking people out of their homes.’ 

The spokeswoman also suggested tourism should be imposed with an ‘eco-tax’ designed to combat the negative effects of visitors. 

An annual report, the Black Flags were announced on Wednesday and denounced the ‘overtourism and urbanisation of our coastline’ as one of the ‘biggest problems’ Spain faces. 

READ MORE: This region in Spain has the highest number of prestigious Blue Flag beaches – after adding three new winners

Aldarias also highlighted the mismanagement of water disposal, which she claims means people ‘do not want to swim in the water.’ 

However, she claimed the group’s aim is not ‘to scare off tourists’ but to promote better management of beaches. 

She also called for beach bars, also known as chiringuitos, to be controlled. 

Of the 48 beaches named in the report, some 15 have been overdeveloped next to the sea. 

A further 16 had insufficient management of wastewater meaning the seawater was not clean. 

Some six more had chemical or acoustic pollution, three had marine rubbish, three had suffered damage caused by industrial activities and four more had environmental damage. 

They also called out two hotels in Fuerteventura, which they claim were built in a protected area. 

Speaking to the Olive Press last year, the environmental group defined the issue as a ‘chronic cancer.’

“We only choose 48 to not overwhelm the press and the people but there are hundreds of natural spaces that are being destroyed,” Cristobal Lopez, Ecologists in Action spokesman and Coordinator of the ‘Black Flags report’ told the Olive Press. 

Lopez believes the Spanish coast has ‘several serious problems’ that are mainly caused by mass tourism and pollution generated by companies. 

“Spain doubles its population during the holiday period and consequently, there is an uncontrolled urban development that leads to the destruction of the littoral. This aberration means that what once were natural areas become a set of hotels and summer homes”. 

He added: “Water sanitation and filtering treatment services collapse because of the overpopulation and sewage flows directly into the sea.”

“And many companies also dump their waste, including chemicals, in the sea, but the fines they face are ridiculously low and there are many times they are not even enforced to pay them.”  

Lopez identifies Andalucia, which has received 10 black flags, as one of the most environmentally destroyed regions in Spain. 

He highlights the wrongdoing in the Costa del Sol, as Malaga coastline as a whole has been given a black flag due to its excessive light pollution generated by industries and mass tourism. 

In Cadiz, the ‘awards’ have gone to Tarifa and Vejer for the uncontrolled and illegal construction of housing developments and the discharge of untreated sewage into the sea.

You can see the full report here.

READ MORE: The hugely popular beaches that have LOST their Blue Flag status this year – including in Cadiz, Marbella and Alicante

Yzabelle Bostyn

After spending much of her childhood in Andalucia and adulthood between Barcelona and Latin America, Yzabelle has settled in the Costa del Sol to put her NCTJ & Journalism Masters to good use. She is particularly interested in travel, vegan food and has been leading the Olive Press Nolotil campaign. Have a story? email yzabelle@theolivepress.es

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