Six billion tonnes of sand extracted from world’s oceans each year: UN | THE DAILY TRIBUNE | KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN

Six billion tonnes of sand extracted from world’s oceans each year: UN

AFP | Geneva          

The Daily Tribune –

Some six billion tonnes of sand and other sediment is extracted from the world’s seas and oceans every year, the UN said yesterday, warning of the devastating toll on biodiversity and coastal communities.

Launching the first-ever global data platform on sediment extraction in marine environments, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), warned that the scale of dredging was growing, with dire consequences.

“The scale of environmental impacts of shallow sea mining activities and dredging is alarming,” said Pascal Peduzzi, who heads UNEP’s analytics centre GRID-Geneva. He pointed to the effects on biodiversity, as well as on water turbidity, and noise impacts on marine mammals.

The new data platform, Marine Sand Watch, uses artificial intelligence to track and monitor dredging activities of sand, clay, silt, gravel, and rock in the world’s marine environment. It uses the so-called Automatic Identification System (AIS) signals for ships combined with AI to identify the operations of dredging vessels, including in hotspots like the North Sea and the east coast of the United States.

The signals emitted by the vessels allow “access to the movements of every ship on the planet,” Peduzzi told AFP, adding that AI makes it possible to analyse the mountains of data gathered. That process is still in the early stages, and so far, only around 50 percent of vessels are being monitored. But the platform estimates that between four and eight billion tonnes of marine sand and other sediment were extracted every year from marine environments between 2012 and 2019.