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Impacts of Sea Sand Mining (Pros and Cons)

by Widiya

Indonesia is an archipelago with around 17,000 islands. By having many islands, Indonesia has a large potential of natural resources in a large number of coastal and marine areas. Management of natural resources in a large number of coastal areas and the sea has not been fully utilized or optimized through the concept of existing development plans so that the utilization of existing natural resources needs to be set as a priority with a well-organized and comprehensive management system.

One way to utilize these resources is by mining. Mining is an activity carried out to extract a large amount of content in the soil which has a high selling value. Such activity can be carried out in traditional and modern ways, for example mining minerals, coal, and others.

Mining activities are strategic for an area in improving the industrial and economic sectors. Particularly for coastal areas, one of the mining activities is sea sand mining. Similar to river sand mining on land, sea sand mining is carried out around the coast or in the middle of the sea either by using traditional tools or using more modern tools. Sea sand is used for various needs such as building materials and road construction. Besides sand, sea sand mining also has a by-product which is iron ore.

Therefore, sea sand mining is not a new thing in various locations around the sea coast in Indonesia. In addition, sea sand mining is also carried out to conduct sea reclamation which is to accumulate large amounts of land or sand on the coast of the sea to expand land or make artificial islands. This is like what happened in the Sea of ​​the Thousand Islands and Jakarta Bay, Sentosa Island in Singapore, around the coast of Benoa in Bali, and Wakatobi Bay area in Sulawesi.

According to Presidential Decree No. 33 of 2002, sea sand is sand excavation found throughout the coast and Indonesian sea waters where it is not classified as Group A and/or B excavation in terms of its economy. Moreover, sea sand is one of the non-renewable natural resources. Though, sea sand mining is still permissible according to existing laws and regulations if it is carried out in accordance with the stipulated rules and regulations on sea sand mining. Nonetheless, sea sand mining is sometimes carried out illegally or violates existing regulations.

The product of illegal sea sand mining is usually sold or exported to other countries, like Singapore, to be used as land-fill. In consequence, it causes great losses to Indonesia, because sea sand mining is very necessary for the expansion of docks and ports in the Indonesian territory in order to expand the capacity and the availability of sufficient space to rely on vessels of medium to large size to be able to stop at ports or docks that are technically inadequate in carrying capacity.

Based on the explanation above, the impacts of sea sand mining can be explained as follows:

Positive Impacts (Pros)

The positive impact of sand sea mining carried out legally can provide added value for an area or country in Indonesia in general, which includes:

  • Generating state income or foreign exchange earned from the export of sea sand;
  • Increasing regional income sources in each district;
  • Doing expansion of the pier or port area;
  • Doing marine reclamation for development; and
  • Increasing the income of people around the coast of the sea.

Negative Impacts (Cons)

The negative impact obtained from illegal sea sand mining can cause damage to the marine ecosystem in a very long time and the recovery time is not quickly carried out. Some of the negative impacts that can be seen from the sand sea mining are as follows:

  • Improving coastal abrasion and coastal erosion;
  • Reducing the quality of marine environment;
  • Increasing coastal pollution;
  • Decreasing water quality which causes increasingly cloudy sea water;
  • Damaging spawning areas and upbringing areas;
  • Causing turbulence which causes an increase in the level of suspended solids in the bottom of the water;
  • Increasing the intensity of flood waters, especially in coastal areas where there is sea sand mining;
  • Damaging coral reef ecosystems and fauna that inhabit the ecosystem (Further reading: 15 Effects Of Pollution On Coral Reefs and 15 Importance of Coral Reefs in Shoreline Protection);
  • The higher energy waves or waves hit the coast or sea. According to Purba (2003), the watershed which previously contained sea sand content becomes very steep and deep so that the waves crashing towards the shoreline will be higher due to reduced damping by the watershed; and
  • Causing the emergence of social conflict between pro-environment communities and sea sand miners.

From the exposure of those two impacts, positive and negative of sand sea mining, it is time for local governments, specifically those who are in charge of regulating sea sand mining to conduct a review in response to legal and illegal sea sand mining. Sea sand mining is an activity that has two opposing sides which on the one hand increasing the welfare and quality of life of its people and on the other hand this can cause damage to the environment and coastal and marine ecosystems. The steps that can be taken to regulate and limit sea sand mining are as follows:

  • Local governments should determine and review regional regulations regarding marine and coastal spatial planning periodically with all related elements;
  • Reviewing the sand sea mining permit for companies that carry out random sand mining activities;
  • Striving for other economic sector alternatives in improving the welfare and life of people around the coast, such as crab cultivation, brackish water fisheries, cultivation of giant prawns, and others;
  • Improving mangrove tree planting programs
  • Prohibiting illegal sea water mining by making binding legal regulations with a maximum fine;
  • Disseminating the benefits of mangrove forests to protect coastal and marine ecosystems; and
  • Patrolling coastal and marine areas by authorities in order to supervise sea water mining that has been licensed.

Those are the impacts of sea sand mining along with prevention and mitigation methods. We hope you find this article useful.

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