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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Asia’s mania for reclaiming land from the sea spawns mounting problems.
For some, concerns over the tourism threat Cuba poses to Miami have reached the granular level.
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.
Land reclamation in the South China Sea could be damaging irreplaceable reef ecosystems, threatening the food security of millions. It’s time for a treaty, says leading scientist.