Ecologists in Action has awarded this year the ‘Black Flag’ in the Canary Islands to the Canto del Barranco beach, in Garachico (Tenerife); Playa Quemada, in the municipality of Yaiza (Lanzarote), and the Oliva Beach hotel complex, in Fuerteventura, according to the report ‘Black Flags 2021’, where an analysis of the almost 8,000 kilometers of the Spanish coast is carried out and those cases have been considered more characteristic of conditions due to pollution and environmental mismanagement.
Since 2015, when the number of flags was homogenized to 48, the organization has awarded a total of 332 black flags. Of these, 75% of the complaints correspond to four specific reasons: spills and lack of sanitation, urban planning, industrial activities, and ports and cruise ships.
However, the coordinator of the Ecologists in Action report, Clara Megías, stated that this number of annual flags “could be much higher, since only the most serious cases have been selected, two per province.”
Since 2018, the biggest problem on the coast of the entire State, collected in this report, remains in the wastewater discharges and its poor purification. According to the environmental organization, “this case is significantly noteworthy, as it shows that the State has a great task to solve in terms of sanitation and purification, something that is well known by the authorities and for which the State is paying a fine. millionaire to Europe ”.
For this reason, last March Ecologistas en Acción presented a report that analyzed the situation of the Wastewater Treatment Plants (WWTP) on the coast of the Spanish State for the year 2019.
In addition, the organization clarifies that there are other causes of coastal degradation, which this year are classified according to their origin: untreated water discharges, urban planning, polluting industrial activities, shocking ports and cruise ships, coastal erosion and defense works, affections to biodiversity and invasive species, accumulation of garbage, effects of aquaculture and other reasons.
THE CANARY ISLANDS BLACK FLAGS
This year, Ecologistas en Acción awards the ‘Black Flag’ for pollution and mismanagement to the Canto del Barranco beach, in Garachico. Since before 2001 there has been knowledge of a dangerous spill on this beach produced by the obsolete and inefficient treatment plant (WWTP) existing in Barranco Hondo, which severely affects the ecosystem of the riverbed and the marine environment, in addition to the health of the neighborhood communities living near the area. According to the environmental organization, this irresponsibility has led to the payment of significant fines for polluting the marine environment.
Ecologists explain that as of 2017 the Los Silos-Isla Baja Platform leads the fight against this spill by putting pressure on local corporations; However, the Garachico City Council does not show a real interest in solving the problem in situ and, on the other hand, the solution proposed by CIATF is to transfer the spill to the municipality of Los Silos through a marine emissary that does not comply with the law and where inhabits the increasingly scarce Canary clam (Haliotis tuberculata coccinea), considered in the Catalog of Protected Species of the Canary Islands.
It also receives the ‘Black Flag’ for contamination Playa Quemada, in the municipality of Yaiza. As can be seen from the report, the activity of the company Piscifactorías Atlántico has been causing organic contamination since 2011 due to the industrial cultivation of seabass and seabream, with its expansion planned along the coastline in areas between Costa Teguise and Playa Blanca.
The Regional Aquaculture Management Plan (PROAC) does not take into account areas such as the Natural Monument of Los Ajaches and its Special Protection Area for Birds (ZEPA), where due to their proximity, a multitude of birds trapped in the cages. It overlaps its occupation with areas of special conservation zone (ZEC): Sebadales de Guasimeta and Cagafrecho where by law it is recommended to avoid fishing, anchoring or any other activity that could degrade the fauna and flora.
In turn, some ZEC areas overlap with Places of Community Importance (SCI) such as the eastern and southern marine area of Lanzarote-Fuerteventura, areas of high biodiversity, habitats or unique communities of Sebadales, transit of turtles and cetaceans; reasons why PROAC has been denounced by numerous groups of citizens, town councils and fishermen’s associations of Lanzarote.
The Oliva Beach hotel complex of the Riu family obtains the ‘Black Flag’ for the second consecutive year in Fuerteventura for poor environmental management. In all these years of exploitation, its wastewater outfall remains in poor condition and dumping pollutants in one of the most important places in the Natura Network, the Corralejo sebadales, underwater forests, declared a Special Marine Conservation Area, and key points for biodiversity . Essential underwater forests and gardens that absorb CO2 and slow down climate change.
As stated by Ecologists in Action, in times of high occupancy you can see the spillage, including toilet paper and excrement pushed by the current towards the beaches of the Natural Park of the Dunes. Likewise, the organization accuses Riu of “pretending to public opinion the restoration of the building due to the poor condition of the hotel, when what is really being proposed is a modification of the volume and major reforms, moving the swimming pool from the site and increasing the number of apartments, among other actions, that are incompatible with the Law of Costs ”.
Ben Magec-Ecologistas en Acción alerts about the annual increase in the deterioration suffered by the coastline as a result of human action (anthropic). That is why they urge all public administrations to take urgent measures to reverse the situation and take seriously the high vulnerability of Canarian biodiversity, especially knowing the high exposure to adverse meteorological phenomena to which climate change exposes us.