Why sand mining is ruining our coastlines

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Today, the Department of Environment indicated that since the government announced plans to suspend sand mining in Barbuda by December 2017, they have received reports of an increase in people removing sand from beaches across Antigua.
Here is the thing— that is illegal. Diann Black-Layne, who is the Director Department of Environment is reminding the general public that, “the removal of sand from beaches in Antigua is illegal and punishable by imprisonment of a term up to 1 year, a fine of $1000, as well as seizure of the vehicle by the state.”
If you are constructing, the Department of Environment is making it clear that you must verify that the sand purchased for your project is coming from legal sources, which include Guyana and Montserrat that are here in our local market.
Ruleta Camacho Thomas, the Deputy Chief Environment Officer within the Department of Environment spoke with OBSERVER media about how serious the problem is and how it affects the coastline.
What beaches have issues with sand mining?
Ruleta Camacho-Thomas: “People see it happening. Around Ffryes and Turner’s Point are two examples where people have seen trucks and backhoes going to move sand. That happens too, but we don’t want to focus on that one. We want to focus on the big issue where people are having big trucks full of sand. I don’t know what they’re using it for, so I can’t say.”
How can you tell when sand has been removed from the beach?
Ruleta Camacho-Thomas: “I know, for example, that boulders on Ffryes Beach and officers from the Ministry of Tourism who patrol the beaches have reported that boulders are moved and people go with backhoes to pick up the sand.”
How has the Environment Division and police been involved in the matter?
Ruleta Camacho-Thomas: “What I can say is that we make reports to the police and we encourage everybody to make reports to the police. Call the police, it’s a criminal matter.”
What can the public do to lessen the effects of sand mining?
Ruleta Camacho-Thomas: “We’re just reminding people that it’s not that we’re trying to keep you from getting sand. It has real environmental impact, an aesthetic impact and sand is basically our defence between the coastal impact of climate change and the land and it’s really important that we retain that buffer.”

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