SAND WATCH (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Env & Eco)

News-CRUX-10     7th September 2023        
Samadhaan

Context: “Around six billion tonnes of sand is being extracted annually from the floor of the world’s oceans, causing irreparable damage to benthic life,” according to a data platform, Marine Sand Watch.

Key Points

  • The new data platform, Marine Sand Watch, has been developed by GRID-Geneva, a Centre for Analytics within the UN Environment Programme (UNEP)
  • The platform will track and monitor dredging activities of sand, clay, silt, gravel, and rock in the world’s marine environment, including hotspots like the North Sea, Southeast Asia, and the East Coast of the United States.
  • The platform has estimated that between four and eight billion tonnes of sand are being dredged from the ocean floor every year. 
  • The extraction of sand increases the turbidity of water. It changes nutrient availability and causes noise pollution, thus affecting marine organisms greatly.
  • Some countries including Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Cambodia have banned marine sand export in the last 20 years, while others lack any legislation and /or effective monitoring programmes.

Marine Sand Watch

  • The new data platform, Marine Sand Watch, tracks and monitors dredging activities of sand, clay, silt, gravel, and rock in the world’s marine environment, including hotspots like the North Sea, South East Asia, and the East Coast of the United States.
  • Developed by: GRID-Geneva a Centre for Analytics within the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the platform uses Automatic Identification System (AIS) signals from vessels and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to identify the operations of dredging vessels.
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