Alarming Findings on Marine Sand Extraction

Alarming Findings on Marine Sand Extraction
  • PublishedSeptember 11, 2023

On 5th September, the United Nations released the initial outcomes of the “Marine Sand Watch” data platform. The new data platform was designed by GRID-Geneva a Centre for Analytics within the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). The platform uses Automatic Identification System (AIS) signals from vessels and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to identify the operations of dredging vessels.

The platform offers data on sand extraction sites, dredging locations, sand trading hubs, vessel numbers, and sea operators.

Initial analyses indicate that the marine dredging industry extracts six billion tonnes of sand and sediments annually.
This is likely to have an adverse effect on coastal communities that are dealing with increasing sea levels and storms, as well as endangering coastal ecosystems and the seabed.

The scale of environmental impacts of shallow sea mining activities and dredging is alarming, including biodiversity, water turbidity, and noise impacts on marine mammals.

International practices and regulatory frameworks vary widely. Some countries – including Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Cambodia – have banned marine sand export in the last 20 years, while others lack any legislation and/or effective monitoring programmes.

All this Data indicates an immediate requirement for improved management of marine sand resources and a reduction in the effects of shallow sea mining.

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