Beach bans ‘take away fun, something that belongs to young people’

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Loud music, playing ball, fishing between sunrise and sunset… what other activities are prohibited according to the Beach Notice and how much can the fine be?

The sun is shining brightly, the water is at the perfect temperature and the pleasant climate turns Santo Amaro de Oeiras Beach, on the Cascais coastline, into a haven for those who want to have fun and escape from everyday life. The Beach Notice, published by the National Maritime Authority (AMN) every year, defines the rules and prohibitions of what can be done on the beaches. This year, some new features have emerged for bathers, although they were already foreseen in previous edicts.

Maria Leonor, accompanied by eight friends, went to Santo Amaro to enjoy the school vacations. The student and her friends, who say they already know the activities banned by the Beach Edict, are frustrated by some of the limitations imposed by the edict, which restrict certain activities that they consider to be an integral part of beach fun.

“We spend most of the year in classes and when the vacation season comes, we want to come to the beach to have fun and it’s not possible. The new laws take away our fun, something that belongs to young people. So I don’t think it makes sense,” says Maria Leonor.

For the group, fun at the beach is something that should be enjoyed to the fullest and some restrictions are unnecessary, depriving them of unforgettable moments that the beach can provide. “Regarding the law that prohibits people from smoking next to other bathers I understand, because tobacco can be annoying, but I don’t think it makes sense to prohibit young people from playing games or listening to music.”

Using noisy equipment, playing ball or similar outside places intended for sports practice, fishing between sunrise and sunset are some of the activities banned in the Beach Edict and can generate fines of thousands of euros, an issue that has caused unrest among bathers.

“Loud music in all concession areas has been prohibited for some time. As we have come across more infractions on the part of bathers, this restriction has been reinforced”, says the coordinator of lifeguards at Praia de Santo Amaro de Oeiras, Miguel Dias.

The coordinator explains that they often come across bathers who bring high-powered sound equipment, with music so loud that it affects the entire beach. “This generates many complaints from other people who come to rest. In all public places there are rules that must be respected”.

According to the Beach Edict 2023, the placement of loud music, which may disturb other bathers, on beaches with the domain of the National Maritime Authority, in addition to the seizure of the object, the fine can reach 4000 thousand euros for individuals and 36 thousand euros for bars or other commercial houses. But it is not the only prohibited activity that generates fines. As in previous years, ball games or similar outside the areas intended for these purposes; surfing, kitesurfing, windsurfing and other sports activities that may constitute a danger to the physical integrity of bathers in areas reserved for them can cause punishments (see box).

“More enforcement needed”

Asked by DN about how bathers react to approaches when they break the laws, Miguel Dias says that in most cases they behave well, but that in general the laws of the edict are not complied with.

“These are laws that make perfect sense, but I don’t think bathers comply with them. For this to be successful there needs to be more control and enforcement, otherwise people will continue to break them.”

The spokesman for the National Maritime Authority, José Sousa Luís, says that the Beach Notice published this year is similar to that of 2022, however, this year there was more interest from the media and the entire population.

“The approaches made by the Maritime Police are more pedagogical, but there is a control by the authorities.”

Smoking on the beach, throwing butts on the ground and bothering other beachgoers with cigarette smoke will also be banned on beaches from October 23 under new tobacco laws (see box).

DN also went to Praia da Barra, in Aveiro, to find out if bathers have already consulted the 2023 Beach Notice.

The beach was quite crowded and André Pires, a native of Aveiro, who was beaching for the first time this year, said he agreed with all the laws in the Edict, but that there should be more restrictions on smoking and drinking rules. “I don’t think it’s the right place to drink. Regarding smoking, I think there should be a reserved area just for smokers, so they don’t bother other bathers.”

Regarding tobacco, Aveiro is not the first to touch on the subject. In May, the Portuguese Federation of Beach Concessionaires stated that in relation to the tobacco law, which entered Parliament, the rules on places where you cannot smoke on the beaches should “be well defined”.

“After the approaches, people go back to doing wrong things in our absence. They may even know the rules, but I doubt they will follow them,” says Praia da Barra lifeguard Ricardo Sarabando, who is in his first year of service. “Our job is to keep watch and we waste time with certain warnings that, in addition to needing to be better publicized by the authorities and the media, bathers should be aware of the legislation.”

One bather, who was visiting the beach for the third time said he was not aware of all the rules in the notice, but that he agrees with all of them. “There are people who come to the beach to relax, enjoy the scenery, sleep a little and even read a book and they can’t because of the noise. I fully agree with the laws,” says Carlos Daniel, who brought a ball with him, but did not yet know that it was forbidden to play in non-allocated areas.

Prohibited activities and punishments according to the Beach Edict
Noisy equipment
The use of loudspeakers that may cause a nuisance to other bathers, in addition to the seizure of the object, may generate fines between €200 and €4,000 for individuals, and between €1,000 and €36,000 for legal persons.

Ball games, rackets and others outside areas allocated for this purpose generate fines between 30 and 100 euros.

Surfing, kitesurfing, windsurfing in places not intended for these practices, on beaches under the domain of AMN, leads to fines between 55 and 550 euros.

Other activities

Dirtying the beach, recreational fishing in bathing units between sunrise and sunset, camping and flying over with aircraft with engines below 1000 feet, are other prohibited activities. With the new tobacco law, from October 23 it will be completely prohibited to smoke on the beaches.

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