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  • It is international recognition conferred on beaches and marinas that meet certain criteria of cleanliness and environmental propriety and equipped with amenities of international standards for tourists.
  • It was first started in France in 1985 and has been implemented in Europe since 1987.
  • It is run by international, non-governmental, non-profit organisation Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE).
  • Since 2001 it has been implemented in areas outside Europe when South Africa joined.
  • Criteria: There are almost 33 criteria that must be met by beaches and marinas to qualify for Blue Flag certification. It includes:
    • Information about the Blue Flag Programme and other FEE eco-label must be displayed.
    • Environmental education activities must be offered and promoted to beach users.
    • Information about bathing water quality must be displayed.
    • Information relating to local eco-systems, environmental elements and cultural sites must be displayed.
    • A map of the beach indicating different facilities must be displayed.
    • The beach must fully comply with the water quality sampling and frequency requirements.
    • The beach must fully comply with the standards and requirements for water  quality analysis.
    • Industrial, waste-water or sewage-related discharges must not affect the beach Area
    • The beach must comply with the Blue Flag requirements for physical parameters.
    • At least one Blue Flag beach in each municipality must have access and facilities provided for the physically disabled
  • Validation: If approved, beaches are given blue flag tag for a year and they must apply annually to continue meriting right to fly this flag at their locations.
  • Top countries: Spain (total blue flags: 684), France (492) and Turkey (458). Japan and South Korea are only countries from South/southeastern Asia to have Blue Flag beaches.
  • Chandrabhaga beach on Konark coast in Odisha was first in Asia to get Blue Flag certification (awarded in June 2019).

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