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(Photo: Coastal Care)

Illegal sand mining ‘escalating’ in St. Kitts

July 9, 2024

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, CMC -The Department of Environment (DOE) has issued a warning regarding what it described as ‘the escalating issue of illegal sand mining’ and warning the public it will maintain a zero-tolerance policy towards illegal sand mining.

“Anyone found guilty will face the full consequences as stipulated by environmental regulations,” the DOE said reminding that removing sand from non-designated areas, including ghauts and beaches, without authorization is a crime.

The warning comes in response to numerous reports of unauthorised sand removal by operators, often during off-hours and weekends.

The DOE said it is appealing to the public to follow the established regulations designed to preserve these vital resources that increased monitoring of mining areas will be implemented in collaboration with local authorities, and that citizens are encouraged to report any instances of illegal sand mining.

“The increasing incidence of illegal sand mining is both disappointing and troubling. It undermines our mission of environmental preservation and future sustainability. The regulations in place are not intended to hinder development or livelihoods but to ensure the long-term availability of these resources for current and future generations. Achieving a sustainable island state requires everyone’s cooperation,” said Conservation Officer Eavin Parry.

The DOE said that the National Conservation Environment Management Bill recently introduced in Parliament reinforces the governing policy for sand mining.

Unauthorised removal of sand from beaches and ghauts carries a penalty of up to EC$10,000 (One E dollar=US$0.37 cents), imprisonment for up to one year or both.

Additionally, any vehicles or equipment used in committing the offence may be forfeited.

The DOE said that sand mining disrupts coastal and river ecosystems, leading to erosion, habitat loss, and decreased biodiversity.

It said also that healthy beaches and riverbeds act as natural barriers against storms and rising sea levels, which are increasingly important in the face of climate change.

“Ensuring the sustainable management of sand mining is not just about preserving the environment but also about securing a viable future for the communities of St. Kitts and Nevis,” the DOE added.

(Photo: Coastal Care)

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