Unregulated Sand Extraction Threatens Marine Life Unsustainably

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Unregulated Sand Extraction Threatens Marine Life Unsustainably

Around 6 billion tons of marine sand is being extracted each year in a practice that the United Nations (UN) agency has deemed unsustainable and detrimental to local marine life. Sand is the second-most exploited natural resource globally, following water. However, extraction for industries such as construction is only loosely governed, leading the UN to pass a resolution last year to promote more sustainable mining practices.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has released findings that align with the launch of a new platform called Marine Sand Watch. This initiative is supported by funding from the Swiss government and utilizes marine tracking and artificial intelligence to monitor dredging activities. UNEP’s Pascal Peduzzi emphasized the significant impact of sand extraction, referring to the process as a giant vacuum cleaner that sterilizes the sea’s bottom by removing sand and destroying microorganisms that form the basis of marine ecosystems.

Peduzzi further warned that in some cases, sand extraction eliminates all sand down to the bedrock, thereby preventing the recovery of marine life. Although the 6 billion tons extracted globally each year is less than the sand replenished by the world’s rivers, certain regions experience extraction rates that surpass replenishment. The South China Sea, the North Sea, and the east coast of the United States are among the areas suffering from extensive dredging activities.

According to Arnaud Vander Velpen, a sand industry and data analytics officer from the University of Geneva, key players in the sector include China, the Netherlands, the United States, and Belgium.

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Addressing this urgent issue is crucial, as the unregulated extraction of sand poses a severe threat to marine life. It is essential to establish effective governance and management measures to ensure the sustainable use of this precious resource. Through the implementation of technological advancements, such as the Marine Sand Watch platform, tracking and monitoring of dredging activities can help prevent irreversible damage to marine ecosystems.

Furthermore, cooperation among countries involved in the sand industry is vital to address this issue collectively. By adopting sustainable mining practices and minimizing the ecological impact, it is possible to strike a balance between meeting the demands of various industries and protecting marine biodiversity.

It is clear that urgent action is required to combat the unsustainable extraction of sand and safeguard marine ecosystems. Through international cooperation, regulations, and the adoption of innovative monitoring methods, we can strive towards a more sustainable future for the global sand industry.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Related to the Above News

What is sand extraction and why is it a concern?

Sand extraction refers to the process of removing sand from beaches, riverbeds, and oceans for various industries, primarily construction. It is a concern because it is the second-most exploited natural resource globally and is causing significant damage to marine ecosystems.

How much sand is extracted globally each year?

Approximately 6 billion tons of marine sand is extracted globally each year.

Why is sand extraction detrimental to marine life?

Sand extraction has a detrimental impact on marine life because it sterilizes the sea's bottom by removing sand, which destroys the microorganisms that form the basis of marine ecosystems. It can also eliminate all sand down to the bedrock, preventing the recovery of marine life.

Which areas are affected by extensive sand dredging activities?

Extensive sand dredging activities are prevalent in regions such as the South China Sea, the North Sea, and the east coast of the United States.

Who are the key players in the sand extraction industry?

China, the Netherlands, the United States, and Belgium are among the key players in the sand extraction industry.

What is the Marine Sand Watch platform?

The Marine Sand Watch platform is a new initiative supported by funding from the Swiss government. It utilizes marine tracking and artificial intelligence to monitor dredging activities and provide data to address the unsustainable extraction of sand.

How can technology help prevent irreversible damage to marine ecosystems due to sand extraction?

Technological advancements, such as the Marine Sand Watch platform, can help track and monitor dredging activities. By implementing these monitoring methods, it becomes possible to prevent irreversible damage to marine ecosystems by regulating sand extraction.

What is the role of international cooperation in addressing the issue of sand extraction?

International cooperation is vital in addressing the issue of sand extraction. By collaborating and adopting sustainable mining practices, countries involved in the sand industry can minimize the ecological impact and work towards protecting marine biodiversity.

What actions can be taken to ensure the sustainable use of sand?

To ensure the sustainable use of sand, effective governance and management measures should be established. This includes implementing regulations to govern sand extraction and adopting innovative monitoring methods to track and minimize the ecological impact.

Why is it important to address the issue of sand extraction urgently?

It is important to address the issue of sand extraction urgently because it poses a severe threat to marine life and ecosystem health. By taking prompt action, we can prevent further damage and ensure a more sustainable future for the global sand industry.

Please note that the FAQs provided on this page are based on the news article published. While we strive to provide accurate and up-to-date information, it is always recommended to consult relevant authorities or professionals before making any decisions or taking action based on the FAQs or the news article.

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