Photo-illustration: Pixabay

The problem of mining sand from the ocean is not a new one. Large quantities of sand are mined and transported to be used in construction and other industries, however, not without consequences for the ocean.

After water, sand is the most used natural resource in the world. It is widely used in various industries, especially as a component of concrete and glass. Every year, around 50 billion tonnes of sand are used globally, according to certain data. This quantity of sand can cover the entire territories of some European countries, especially those in the central part of the continent.

With each new excavation, marine organisms and ecosystems are disturbed.

To combat this problem, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) launched the first public platform to monitor the dredging of sand and other sediments through a network of satellites and ground-based monitoring stations, called Marine Sand Watch. A significant proportion of dredging was found to be taking place in protected marine areas, a worrying trend that threatens biodiversity and fisheries. With the help of artificial intelligence and radio signals, the platform analyzes the movement of boats.


Marine Sand Watch not only monitors dredging at sea but can also identify ports specialized in sand trade, thereby managing to estimate the total amount of sand mined per country. According to the platform director, most of the sand is mined legally, through concessions granted by governments, the UNEP website says.

The upside of the platform is that it can help countries ensure that mining companies operate in a sustainable and environmentally responsible manner.

The countries that currently lead in the industrial production and export of sand include the USA, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Australia, China and Vietnam.

Energy portal