Westward Beach, between the Zuma Lagoon and Birdview Avenue, received recognition from the Blue Flag International Jury this month, and was awarded the Blue Flag USA award, the first Blue Flags in the continental United States. Delray Beach Municipal Beach between Casuarina Road and Laing Street in Delray was also awarded for recognition.
The 36-year-old International Blue Flag program awards beaches, marinas, and tourism boat operators annually based on a significant but attainable set of operations criteria covering environmental education and information, water quality, environmental management, and safety and services. The International Jury awarded over 5,000 sites for the first time in 2022.
“Our sites have worked hard for several months to implement and maintain more than 30 diverse criteria to achieve award status. Their staff and communities can raise their flags with pride for going above and beyond US standards to receive international recognition for sustainable management practices,” Program Coordinator for the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association (ASBPA) Annie Mercer said.
As a National Operator for the international Blue Flag program, ASBPA administers the program in the continental United States, Alaska, and Hawaii, as well as supports sites in reaching criteria compliance.
Staff from the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors started with the program in 2020 as a beach management entity advising ASBPA on feasibility information, and officially entered the program as a pilot site in 2021 when the international jury reviewed their Gap Analysis.
“We’re thrilled and honored that the Westward Beach portion of world-famous Zuma Beach will fly one of the first Blue Flags in the United States,” Director for the County of Los Angeles’s Department of Beaches and Harbors Gary Jones said. “The Blue Flag will provide visitors with extra assurance that we are responsibly caring for our coast.”
As part of the international program’s mission of sustainable development through environmental education, awarded sites will be offering educational activities to the public. Programming details for local activities will be posted on their respective sites’ information boards.
The Blue Flag will be raised during a public ceremony on Thursday, May 25, at 2 p.m. near the Westward Beach restrooms, and will fly over Westward Beach from May 25 through September 30, 2023, and over Delray Beach Municipal Beach from May 19, 2023, through April 30, 2024.
Internationally, the Blue Flag has been awarded to more than 5,000 beaches, marinas and tourism boats from 50 countries. Blue Flag is an international awards program that promotes environmental education and information; environmental management; safety and services; social responsibility; and responsible tourism. To be considered for the award, Westward Beach had to meet more than 30 criteria in those categories. For more information, visit blueflag.us.