Illegal Sea Sand Dredging Leaves Behind Environmental Mess, China

Posted In News, Sand Mining

Qingdao Beach, Shandong Province, China. Photo Source: Flicker

By Liang Chen, Global Times China

The city of Qingdao in Shandong Province is known for its sandy beaches, wild beer festival and its unique architecture. But recent visitors might have noticed something else: ugly dredging vessels pumping sea sand to be used for construction projects.

Boats deliver the sand to construction sites including airports, highways and homes.

The country’s economic boom has triggered unprecedented number of construction projects, and thus the demand for sand, a key element for making concrete.

The regular supply of sand has almost run out and many construction firms have been using sand from the sea, many doing so against the law, and leaving behind an environmental mess. But some observers say it is not so difficult to steal sand, thanks to poor enforcement.

“Shockingly, these dredging boats go out to pump sand the next day right after they were punished,” an anonymous worker in the Qingdao Development Zone told, China Youth Daily.

Since mid-May, local authorities in Shandong, Guangdong, Hebei, and Liaoning provinces have worked together to fight against the illegal dredging that often takes place in the open.

However, such action has proven ineffective. Yuan Xiaojun, the vice director at the Institution of Qingdao Marine Geology under China Geological Survey Bureau, told the Global Times that such exploitation has brought disaster to the maritime envi-ronment, and significant loss of tax revenue to the country.

Ni Jianmin, an official in Huangdao district, said the maritime environment in the district has worsened in recent years, affecting the inhabitant for fish and crabs.

The coastline in Rizhao, Shandong, has retreated more than 100 meters, China Youth Daily reported last week.

“The ocean sand is a non-renewable resource and excessive exploitation will definitely lead to the collapse of the seabed and significantly damage the sea’s ecological resources,” said Liu Wukai, vice director of Oceanic and Fisheries Bureau of Guangdong Province.

Liu said excessive dredging is eroding the beach.

He blamed overlapping agencies for passing the buck and failing to stop the illegal activity. “Too many departments easily cause an administrative vacuum in law enforcement sometime,” he told the Global Times.

Local law enforcement officials tracked down a Jiangsu dredging boat in Qingdao after it was suspected of doing illegal sea sand dredging on July 2, only three days after it was fined 150,000 yuan ($22,564) for the same reason.

According to the Legal Daily, more than 50 dredging boats operate along the west bank in Jiaozhou Bay, which is on the western coast of the Yellow Sea.

The Beijing News reported earlier that reclamation projects around the Bohai Sea will require millions of tons of sand. In Tianjin Bay alone, 200 million tons are needed.

Zhu Lei, a doctorate student at Beijing Forestry University, told the Global Times that most of the sea sand needed for Bohai Bay is from Hebei, Guangdong and Shandong provinces.

Song Jihua, vice director of Yantai Oceanic Fishery Bureau in Shandong Province, told the Beijing News that sea sand in Laizhou, Shandong Province, sells for 15 yuan ($2.2) per ton. However, it could go up to 60 yuan ($8.8) in Tianjin Bay.

An unnamed officer from a law enforcement department in Huangdao district, Qingdao, told China Youth Daily that the illegal dredgers often get a heads up before police arrive.

Some property developers collude with the seller of the sea sand, Guangdong-based Nanfang Daily reported.

Despite the fact that illegal sea sand dredging is subject to a maximum fine of 200,000 yuan ($30,085), the lucrative business remains attractive to many illegal dredgers.

“One dredging boat can earn about 1 million yuan ($150,247) for a single night’s work, and they are difficult to be seized since they work at night,” Liu Huirong, a professor from the Ocean University of China, told the Global Times.

Liu said a unified supervision and management system involving various agencies could work. The penalty should be more severe.

There is no maritime law that stipulates the legal liability of such an offense. “The government should take the destruction of maritime ecology into account when writing new laws, and the those who break the law should also take responsibility for rebuilding the sea environment,” Liu said.

Original Article

Tags: , ,

Post comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Sand Mining

You can make a difference and help save our beaches

Learn simple things that you can do to help protect beaches starting with simply educating others about the beach thereby helping us celebrate the beauty of the world’s beaches.

Join our campaign!

Sign the petition to end global sand mining.

  • Sand Mining Resources

  • More / Sand Mining

    Decree Granting Sand Mining Concession Has Been Signed – Environmentalist Group Will Appeal


    September 19th, 2015

    The decree granting concession of shell sand in Bay of Lannion, Brittany, to CAN Industry, was signed Monday and published this Wednesday. The environmental group “Peuple Des Dunes” intends to appeal and file an action before the administrative court.

    Read More

    NOAA Fisheries Input on Sand Mining Helps Protect Key Fish Habitat


    September 8th, 2015

    Sand, not gold, has since become one of the world’s most precious and finite resources originating in California’s mountains. NOAA Fisheries is working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and industry to understand the effect that sand mining could have on important fish habitat.

    Read More

    Built on Sand: Singapore and the New State of Risk


    September 7th, 2015

    The island’s expansion has been a colossal undertaking. It is not merely a matter of coastal reclamation: Singapore is growing vertically as well as horizontally. This means that the nation’s market needs fine river sand—used for beaches and concrete—as well as coarse sea sand to create new ground.

    Read More

    800,000m3 of Sand to be Removed Close to Some of Kenya’s Most Prized Beaches


    September 4th, 2015

    Sand could soon be sucked out of the Indian Ocean, in a 0.4 –1km strip off the Kenyan coastline. The extraction will take place from Likoni through Waa to Tiwi Area in Mombasa county – close to some of Kenya’s most prized beaches and the Diani-Chale National Marine Reserve.

    Read More

    African Ports Scramble for Land to Expand as Demand Rises


    July 28th, 2015

    With competition for space is intensifying around Africa’s coastal cities as urbanization gains momentum, ports are using dredged material and reclaiming land to expand container terminal capacity.

    Read More

    Such Quantities of Sand


    July 27th, 2015

    Asia’s mania for reclaiming land from the sea spawns mounting problems.

    Read More

    In Miami, Worries About Cuba Include Grains of Sand (!)


    July 24th, 2015

    For some, concerns over the tourism threat Cuba poses to Miami have reached the granular level.

    Read More

    The Demand for Sand is so High There are Illegal Sand Mining Operations


    July 20th, 2015

    Sand isn’t just for beaches. The tiny grains show up in many products of the industrialized world: in the glass and concrete that build cities, in detergents and cosmetics that people use daily, and in the silicon chips and solar panels of advanced technology. But sand comes from rocks that take thousands of years to erode into fine particles, and humans are using it faster than they should.

    Read More

    Archive / Sand Mining