About six billion (6 billion) tons of sand and other sediments are removed from the world’s seas and oceans every year, the United Nations said on Tuesday. The statistics are a devastating warning on biodiversity and coastal communities.
Launching the first global data platform on sediment discharge in the marine environment, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) has warned that dredging is increasing, with dire consequences.
Pascal Peduzzi, head of UNEP’s analysis center GRID-Geneva, said, “The environmental impact of deep sea mining and dredging is alarming.
’ He also pointed to the impact on biodiversity, as well as water turbidity and the impact of noise on marine mammals.
New data platform Marine Sand Watch uses artificial intelligence to track and monitor sand, clay, silt, gravel and rock dredging activities in the world’s marine environment. They use so-called Automatic Identification System (AIS) signals for artificially intelligent (AI) vessels to detect dredging vessel activity, including in hotspots such as the North Sea and the US East Coast.
Peduzzi said the signals emitted by the ships “allow access to the movements of every ship on the planet.”
’ This makes it possible to analyze mountains of data collected by AI.
The process is still in its early stages and only about 50 percent of the ships are being monitored so far.
Six billion tons
But the Platform estimates that between 2012 and 2019, between four and eight billion tons of sea sand and other sediments were removed from the marine environment each year. The UN aims to release the 2020-23 figures by the end of this year.
But it is already clear, Peduzzi said, that these activities are not slowing down, but rather “taking on massive proportions”.
Peduzzi warns that the world is approaching a natural replenishment rate of 10-16 billion tons of sediment in the world’s oceans each year. He says the exhaust vessels are like giant vacuums. Cleans the seabed and ‘disinfects’ them. As a result, marine organisms are disappearing.
Biodiversity is under threat.
UNEP says there is an urgent need for better management of marine sand resources and to reduce the impact of shallow sea mining. They pointed to dramatically changed practices and regulations, calling for international norms for dredging techniques. It also recommended banning sand extraction from beaches due to its important role in coastal resilience, environment and economy.