GENEVA, Sept 5 (Reuters) – Some six billion tonnes of sea sand are mined each year in a growing practice that a United Nations agency has said is unsustainable and could irreversibly wipe out local marine life.
Sand is the world’s most exploited natural resource after water, but its extraction for use in industries such as construction is subject only to loose rules, prompting the United Nations to pass a bill Accuracy Last year to promote more sustainable mining.
The UNEP findings coincide with the launch of a new platform marine sand control Backed by funding from the Swiss government that monitors dredging activities using marine tracking and artificial intelligence.
“The amount of sand that we pull out of the environment is significant and it has a significant impact,” Pascal Pedozzi of the United Nations Environment Program told a news conference in Geneva.
Pointing to a picture of a ship he described as a “giant vacuum cleaner,” he said such ships “essentially sterilize the seabed by extracting sand and crushing all the microorganisms that feed on the fish.”
In some cases, Bedouzi added, companies remove all the sand from the foundation, which means “life may never recover.”
The United Nations Environment Program said that while the six billion mined globally is less than the sand that accumulates annually in the world’s rivers, in some areas removal exceeds renewal rates.
The South China Sea, the North Sea and the east coast of the United States are among the areas where the most dredging has occurred, said Arnaud Vander Vilpen, a sand industry and data analysis officer at the University of Geneva.
He added that China, the Netherlands, the United States and Belgium are among the most active countries in this sector.
Reporting by Emma Farge; Editing by Christina Fincher
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