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
San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) unanimously approved a 10-year mining permit for sand removal from San Francisco Bay, and from two other areas near Suisun. The amount of sand the permit requests is 15 times greater than the annual amount of sand that comes into the bay from the delta.
Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta– home to 10 million people – is sinking into the sea at between 2.9 and 6.7 inches per year. To save the megacity from drowning: a $40 billion land reclamation and sea wall project estimated to take 30 years to complete. However, today, the central government has decided to suspend its implementation as the viability of the project is now questioned.
In recent years, China has laid claim to the South China Sea with increasing fierceness, challenging the counterclaims of neighboring states and confronting their fishing boats on the open water. But new satellite photos have provided the most dramatic evidence yet of just how aggressively China is acting to establish a sphere of influence in the South China Sea
Apart from water and air, humble sand is the natural resource most consumed by human beings. People use more than 40 billion tons of sand and gravel every year. There’s so much demand that riverbeds and beaches around the world are being stripped bare.
Government will be adopting the satellite route to weed out illegal sand miners throughout India using the technology available with India’s space agency ISRO.
Hoteliers at Ngapali in southern Rakhine State have warned that beaches in the area could be irrevocably damaged unless the authorities stop allowing sand to be taken for construction projects. Local authorities have formally allowed construction firms to take sand from three beaches in apparent violation of the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism’s Directives for Coastal Beach Areas.
The government divers who plunged into the bay near the Port of Miami surfaced with bad news again and again: Large numbers of corals were either dead or dying, suffocated by sediment. The source of the sediment, environmentalists say, is a $205 million dredging project…
Sand – inexpensive and abundant – is a treasure to India’s builders and the construction industry, which employs some 40 million people. But the spike in construction means sand mining, both legal and illegal, will increase in coastal areas, riverbeds, creeks, and rivulets.
The time has come for the government to consider a total ban on any sand mining in South African rivers to curb serious environmental damage and the growing risk of severe erosion damage to coastal cities like Durban.