Portugal will have 640 approved beaches, including inland waterways, for bathing this year, up from 99 in 2017, the director of the Instituto de Socorros a Náufragos (ISN) said Friday 20th April, adding that there will be 504 more certified lifeguards.

During a press conference, held at the ISN headquarters in Caxias, Oeiras municipality, José Gouveia said that during the bathing season – which starts legally on May 1 and goes until October 15 – on the along the coast there will be 387 beaches with bathing quality, 129 inland (river beaches), 70 and 54 in the islands of the Azores and Madeira, respectively.

In 2017 there were 470 beaches monitored and 226 unguarded, but for this year the director of the ISN explained that, at the moment, it is not yet possible to make an estimate, emphasizing that this is a responsibility of the municipalities and the concessionaires of beaches, who are responsible the hiring of the lifeguards.

Gouveia stated that the ISN has nothing to do with hiring these professionals, but gave a warning based, based on the experience of previous years. “It’s because there are lifeguards who take the course and then they do not undertake the work, hence the need to have as many certified swimmers as possible to guarantee that there are sufficient to go to the beaches. It is up to us to ensure they are well trained to the requirements of the law and that we are sure that those who are on the beach know what they are doing, “he says.

This year there were 23 courses for lifeguards, attended by 352 persons plus 152 requalification’s, making a total of 504. In all there are 5360 certified lifeguards.

Despite these figures, the director of the ISN acknowledges that there are still unguarded beaches. “There is always a period in the beginning of the bathing season where some beaches will not have a bathing assistance. They do not have the commitment of the municipalities, they do not have to attend to bathers. There are many beaches that have adequate signage as an unguarded beach, “says José Gouveia