Erosion puts a damper on  top beach competition

by INÊS LOPES [email protected]

News that dozens of Algarve beaches are entering a national competition to select the top seven in Portugal was marred by reports of beach erosion getting worse along the region’s coastline.

The recently launched Seven Wonders – Beaches of Portugal competition aims to promote environmental quality, the country’s water resources, natural beauty and coastline.

While it is indisputable that the Algarve has some of the most desirable beaches in the world, authorities continue to highlight the threats posed by eroded cliffs in some areas.

Data from the Algarve’s Hydrographical Administration (ARH) reveals that around 75 beaches along the coast are suffering the effects of erosion damage, with three awaiting the result of further studies before they can be considered suitable for bathers by the National Water Institute (INAG).

They are Marinha and Carvalho in the Lagoa council and Prainha in Portimão, which may be classed as “dangerous” for bathers due to the risks posed by their cliffs.

Algarve Resident reporters have visited all three beaches and can confirm the INAG reports, with Marinha, one of the most popular beaches in the region, being engulfed by severely eroded cliff bases, often sought by bathers for shading.

Caneiros beach, Lagoa. Photo: ALGARVEIMAGES.COM
Caneiros beach, Lagoa. Photo: ALGARVEIMAGES.COM

A complete list of Portugal beaches considered suitable for bathers by the INAG is currently under public consultation until February 2, with Marinha, Carvalho and Prainha facing the possibility of being excluded from the list if further studies conclude their cliffs pose a serious threat. To see the full list, please visit http://snirh.pt/minisites/consultapublicazb/docs/2012_CosteirasTransicao.pdf

At the end of 2011, a total of 180 warning signs were put up across critical areas of the coastline by the ARH, with the majority being in the Albufeira council (60), followed by Portimão (33) and Lagoa (29).

Cruz Martins, Commandant for the Port of Portimão and Lagos, says there is little the maritime authorities can do to stop people from frequenting dangerous beaches. “All we can do is stop any licensing for beach concessions there, which means they won’t be supervised by lifeguards.”

But despite this, the region’s strong points continue to be its good climate and beaches and Algarve councils want to maximise on these.

Top beaches

Recently, Câmaras have been busy putting forward their candidates for the Seven Wonders – Beaches of Portugal competition, with councils such as Aljezur, Lagoa, Vila do Bispo and Lagos applying with nine, eight, seven and six beaches respectively (see table).

There are several categories to choose from: Cliff Beaches, Dune Beaches, Wild Beaches, Sport-friendly Beaches, Urban Beaches, Lagoon Beaches and River Beaches.

Seven Wonders – Beaches of Portugal is a private project of public interest organised by EIPWU Lda, which is officially licensed by the New Seven Wonders Portugal society.

In the first phase, 70 pre-finalists will be selected on January 25, followed by the selection of the 21 finalists on May 7, with voting by the public until September 7.

The website to vote is www.7maravilhas.pt, however it was not operating at the time the Algarve Resident went to press.

The seven national winners will be announced live on RTP1 TV channel on September 8.

7 Wonders – Beaches of Portugal Competition

Algarve candidates

Aljezur: Amado, Arrifana, Amoreira, Bordeira, Odeceixe, Monte Clérigo, Arrifana, Canal, Vale Figueira, Vale dos Homens

Lagoa: Praia Grande, Carvoeiro, Marinha, Caneiros, Sra da Rocha, Afurada, Estaquinha, Algar de José Rodeira.

Vila do Bispo: Burgau, Salema, Castelejo, Beliche, Tonel, Ponta Ruiva, Cordoama

Lagos: Meia Praia, Batata, D. Ana, Camilo, Porto de Mós, Luz

Loulé: Vilamoura, Quarteira, Vale do Lobo, Garrão Poente, Quinta do Lago

Portimão: Praia Rocha, Barranco das Canas (Alemão), Alvor

Albufeira: Barranco das Belharucas, Peneco, Salgados

Olhão: Fuseta, Armona

Silves: Praia Grande

Faro: Barrinha

Alcoutim: Pego Fundo

The Algarve Resident tried to obtain information from other councils regarding their applications but at the time of going to press no one was available.