Illegally-mined sand yet to be relocated

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Although the stop order had been issued more than weeks ago, the sand that was illegally mined in the North East Marine Management Area (NEMMA) is reported to still be at the Crabb’s Peninsula near the YIDA Development site.

According to the Deputy Chief Fisheries Officer Tricia Lovell, “We need to conduct an analysis of the sediment from both sites to make sure both are similar before the sand is relocated.”

The sediment analysis will be conducted by local scientists in Antigua and Barbuda, but the samples have yet to be collected.

“The developer,” Lovell said, “was told by the Development Control Authority (DCA) that they were not allowed to use the sand.”

The deputy chief fisheries officer indicated that her department further advised the offending developer that the sand, “should not be used for any other development, either at the site that it was offloaded on, or any other site”.

“However, it can be used for a beach,” she said, “but just not that beach for that resort.”

The YIDA group had designs that included the creation of a beach to accompany a planned host of resorts and restaurants on Guiana Island. The new beach, as per the YIDA designs, will not be developed using the illegally-mined sand.

However, the sand, which was dredged in the seas surrounding Maiden Island, cannot be just dumped back into the sea without environmental ramifications.

“The problem is, you take the sand out and it’s not necessarily an easy task putting it back in,” Lovell explained.

If the sand is just pumped back into the channel, she added, “it could become an even bigger problem [as] it could end back up in the channel, it could end up downstream and that would be an issue for any habitats that might be downstream in the area.”

The sand is now dry, and the department is considering two sites — Shell Beach and Jabberwock Beach — as potential landing sites for the illegally-mined sand as those beaches are “suffering” from the effects of sand erosion.

Once it is relocated, however, Lovell confirmed that all of the yet-to-be-determined costs associated with the relocation of the illegally-mined sand will be borne by the offending developer.

What was supposed to be maintenance dredging of a navigational channel in the NEMMA had become a environmental violation.

There have been no fines levied as prescribed by the Fisheries Act of 2006 for the illegal mining of sand. Section 52 subsection (2) reads: “A person who, in a marine reserve, without permission granted under subsection (3) — dredges, extracts sand and gravel, discharges or deposits wastes or any other polluting matter, or in any other way disturbs, alters or destroys the natural environment commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $100,000.”

 The deputy chief fisheries officer confirmed that it the Minister with responsibility for Fisheries who ultimately decides on the enforcement of penalties for any violation of The Fisheries Act of 2006.

The minister, in this instance, is Dean Jonas.

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