Yesterday the International Environmental Blue Flag Programme gave its verdict on awards for 2010 and the Canary Islands received 34 of the prestigious flags for its beaches and 3 for its ports.

Of the 37 Blue Flags awarded, 10 have gone to Tenerife:
The laid back surf dude’s wind paradise of El Médano gets no less than three all to itself for El Médano, Machado and La Tejita beaches.
Costa Adeje picks up the award for Troyas 1 and 2 while Playa de Las Américas gets in on the act with El Camisón, and Los Cristianos gets a Blue for Las Vistas.
In the south west, La Arena maintains its Blue status while in the north, Puerto de la Cruz wins out with Playa Jardín, Los Realejos rocks with El Socorro and the Tacoronte resort of Mesa del Mar comes up trumps with La Arena.

Alongside year round sunshine; clean, safe and environmentally sound beaches are critical to marketing the Canary Islands to the tourism industry and for that reason the Blue Flag awards are an annual breath-holding experience for those responsible for protecting the islands” beaches.

A case of good news, bad news…
2010 sees a couple of notable exceptions on the awards list; Tenerife’s Las Teresitas and for the first time in 21 years, Gran Canaria’s Las Canteras.
Both beaches have suffered pollution scares from nearby shipping in the past 12 months. Last October Las Teresitas beach had to be closed after several swimmers suffered an allergic reaction to what was thought to be contaminants in the water and last summer Las Canteras suffered closures after pollutants affected the area around La Puntilla.

With so much importance attached to the standard of Canary Islands coastlines, the presence of a beach in the awards is seen as recognition of the hard work of municipalities in protecting their assets, and by default, its absence is bad news for a resort.

This year Tenerife has topped the Canary Islands Blue Flag list with 10 awards while Gran Canaria comes in second with 8. Coupled with the loss of its flag by Las Canteras which, less than two weeks ago was voted Spain’s top beach by readers of the online journal El Economista, this year’s announcement of winners has added fuel to the age-old rivalry between Tenerife and Gran Canaria. There’s even a whiff of heads rolling with Canarias 7 today asking the public if they think the councilman responsible for Las Canteras should be sacked.

I wonder how many people, lying back on their beach towels, liberally applying the factor 25 and enjoying the beautiful surroundings, have any knowledge of the slings and arrows of petty rivalries and local politics that sit alongside environmental consciences for that dainty Blue Flag to flutter in the breeze at the top of the beach? Hopefully, none.

More winners:
Blue Flag Awards went to the following Canary Islands beaches:
Gran CanariaLa Laja, Melenara, El Inglés, San Agustín, Maspalomas, Meloneras, Amadores and Mogán.
LanzaroteMatagorda, Los Pocillos, Grande (Blanca), Pila la Barrilla and Playa Blanca.
FuerteventuraGran Tarajal, Costa Calma, El Matorral, Butihondo, Grandes Playas, La Concha and Blanca.
La PalmaBajamar, Los Cancajos, Puerto Naos and Charco Verde

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