The world’s beaches are being mined for sand for a variety of uses (aggregate in concrete, fill, beach renourishment). The practice is often very destructive and poorly managed (or unmanaged). This is a global phenomenon (Morocco, Caribbean Islands, India, South Africa and more). This theft of beach and dune sand is a direct cause of erosion along many shorelines. It is very damaging to the beach fauna and flora, ruinous to beach aesthetics, and frequently causes environmental damage to other coastal ecosystems associated with the beach such as wetlands.
Another major impact of beach sand mining is the loss of protection from storms surges associated with tropical cyclones and tsunamis. Some communities affected by the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean had higher storm surges probably due to beach sand mining resulting in fatalities. Sometimes it is difficult to tell that a beach has been mined. Sand extraction becomes difficult to recognize as the beach readjusts to a new profile after a few storms. But historic accounts of beaches in the Caribbean often reveal that beaches have been narrowed considerably. Mining is particularly senseless in a time of rising sea level when sand is sorely needed as a storm energy buffer.
Surfing in / Sand Mining
When Superstorm Sandy rolled over the Jersey shore, it washed away some 20 million cubic yards of beach sand. Replacing that resource is not optional, many believe, because decimated beaches kill tourism economies and leave coastal areas more vulnerable to damage from the next storm.
Sand is becoming so scarce that stealing it has become an attractive business model. With residential towers rising ever higher and development continuing apace in Asia and Africa, demand for the finite resource is insatiable.
Sand mafia is now mixing up the beach sand with riverbed sand for construction activity in the city due to scarcity. Though the practice exists in the city for sometime on the outskirts, it has become rampant with shortage of sand.
Sand-Wars won the PRIX GEMEAUX award for Best Documentary in the Nature and Sciences category, at the Academy of Canadian and Television (ACCT).
Phnom Penh’s construction frenzy is fueling the need for sand dredging. According to the Cambodian government, between 15,000 to 20,000 cubic meters of sand per day is needed in Phnom Penh to sustain the city’s building boom.
The 30-mile long, continuous sandy shoreline around Monterey Bay is the most visited stretch of shoreline on the central coast. Yet, it holds the dubious distinction of being the only active beach sand mining operation along the entire United States shoreline. To make matters even worse, it all takes place along the shoreline of a protected National Marine Sanctuary. Something is seriously wrong with this picture.
Frackers are expected to use nearly 95 billion pounds of sand this year, up nearly 30% from 2013. There are growing restraints on sand supplies and oil companies’ insatiable appetite has generated renewed interest in second-tier deposits of lower-quality brown sand in places like Texas.
In this original version, investigative journalist Cristina Sáez, writing for leading spanish newspaper La Vanguardia, exposes how extensive, detrimental, silenced yet utterly pervasive “The pillaging of beach sand” has become.
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