09/20/2010 04:23

International Coastal Cleanup is the brainchild of international NGO Ocean Conservancy; highest rated: Achziv, Tel Baruch, Nordau-Metzitzim and Hilton.

Israel joined the International Coastal Cleanup on Sunday for the first time, launching a week-long beach campaign that will peak Friday at Nahsholim Beach.

The goal is to encourage 2,500 volunteers to come out and clean up the trash that bathers leave behind at 25 beaches along the coast. To that end, the Environmental Protection Ministry has partnered with NGOs, diving clubs and other groups to get people to lend a hand.

International Coastal Cleanup is the brainchild of international NGO Ocean Conservancy. Ocean Conservancy maintains a worldwide database of the amount of trash on beaches.

An events listing can be found on the website of the Environmental Protection Ministry –

Meanwhile, the ministry also revealed the first rankings under its Blue-Green Flag program which rates beaches based on a variety of criteria.

The highest ranked beaches were Achziv beach in the Mateh Asher Regional Council area, and Tel Aviv’s Tel Baruch, Nordau-Metzitzim and Hilton beaches.

The lowest ranked were the Caesaria Port Beach, which was closed for a private event, Onot Beach in Netanya and Shefayim Beach in the Sharon Coast Regional Council Area.

The Blue-Green Flag program ranks beaches according to the following criteria: water quality, cleanliness of the beach, parking, disabled access, coastal facilities, sewage connection, public opinion, and the ministries’ opinions.

For instance, if there is free parking, then no points are deducted, if there is paid parking then 3 percent is deducted and if there is no parking then 5% is deducted. Similarly, for the presence or absence of trash cans every 20 meters, jellyfish or seaweed.

The goal of the program, which was launched at the beginning of the month, is to provide the public with more information and to create a sense of competition between local authorities to encourage them to maintain their beaches properly. The program will fully deploy for the next bathing season.

Israel’s program is based on the international Blue Flag initiative, run by the Denmark-based Foundation for Environmental Education.