With increasing demand for leisure opportunities, beach environments figure highly in the social valuation of coastal recreational amenities, the latter often seen as a safe recreational environment that is enjoyed by a wide spectrum of society. By definition, beach management “seeks to maintain or improve a beach as a recreational resource and a means of coast protection, while providing facilities that meet the needs and aspirations of those who use the beach” (Bird, 1996 p. 212.). In this context, the impact of sound beach management may be seen as an effective utilisation of an increasingly valuable (socio-economic and in places ecological) national resource.
It also leads to an encouragement of overseas tourism, an increase in quality for local recreational opportunities and an enhancement of nearby urban settlements. In practice, beach management may be seen to address socio-economic and environmental considerations as well as engineering aspects largely related to sediment dynamics. Beach rating procedures and award schemes used so far (e.g. Blue Flag) tend to either focus on single or few issues of concern to beach users or to ignore the nature of varying beach types and individual beach type requirements. In addition, most approaches tend to focus on the beach itself rather than the more holistic vision of a bathing area (including that area within walking distance and generally visible from the beach), and more often than not, stop short of integrating concerns into an effective beach management tool.
To overcome those shortcomings, PAP/RAC has launched a regional study to evaluate the state of beach management in the Mediterranean. The project is based on recent research that has resulted in the development of a Bathing Area Registration & Evaluation (BARE) technique that assesses beach quality in an objective manner and facilitates beach management through consideration of beach quality and/or shortfalls in a wide spectrum of beach types (resort, urban, village, rural and remote).