Some people love the idea of taking sand from their favorite beaches to their homes as souvenirs. Others use them for purposes like sandboxing and landscaping. However, is it illegal to take sand from the beach? Can you get in trouble with law enforcement authorities for taking beach sand with you?
In this article, we’ll answer these questions and tell you the reasons why you should reconsider your plan to take home some sand from that beach you love. We also cite real-world examples of people who’ve done the same thing. Read on to learn more!
The Quick Answer If It Is Illegal to Take Sand
Yes, it is illegal to take sand from the beach. While the activity might seem harmless, many countries around the world prohibit beachgoers from taking sand from their beaches. You can get in trouble with the law if you insist on doing so.
For instance, in 2019, CNN reported that a French couple attempted to take about 14 plastic bottles of white sand from a beach in Sardinia. They were arrested and could face up to six years in prison. The fine was up to $3,300.
The couple claimed no knowledge that taking sand from the beach was illegal. However, police officers said multiple signs in various languages on the beach reminded guests that the practice was illegal. While sand nabbing is quite common in Sardinia, most instances are discovered at security checkpoints in the airport.
So, it’s wise to search for other souvenirs during your next beach trip, whether it’s in other countries or even in the US. Florida, Hawaii, and California deem this illegal. Italy and France impose hefty fines on violators — they even put people in jail for it.
Why Is It Illegal to Take Sand from Beaches?
The answer is quite simple: sand shortage.
If every person who ever goes to a beach takes a handful of sand with them when they go, the sand will eventually become depleted. Sand isn’t replenished by the sea — it’s circulated. It consists of tiny particles that were once materials from the sea, such as sea shells. But it takes an extremely long time for such materials to become sand.
Moreover, the US Climate Resilience Toolkit says that coastal erosion is becoming a huge problem. In the US alone, coastal erosion causes a yearly coastal property loss of around $500 million.
Coastal erosion happens when sea levels rise. Large waves and floods carry away rocks, sand, and even entire beaches — the sand is either dispersed or lost. While this is more commonly caused by storms, manmade sand mining also contributes heavily to it.
Beach Sand Black Market and Sand Mafias
Because sand removal is illegal in many states and countries, a black market for beach sand has opened up. Within this market, certain types of sand are traded. According to the UNEP, 49 to 52 million tons of sand are mined each year. Most of it is used in cement. In other words, the world is running out of sand.
As a result, countries import sand from around the world. Since sand is easily accessible to tourists , sand black markets use them. Violence is also common in this “sand mafia” world. In India, the problem of sand mafias is felt highly in countries like India, where grain demand is soaring but stockpiles are diminishing.
Sand mafias in the area take resources illegally and have been reported to use violent methods to do so. In one report, illegal sand miners fatally shot three men from one family that protested against sand mining.
Other Environmental Effects
Countries experiencing tremendous growth like China and India use sand extremely heavily in their construction of buildings, roads, and other infrastructures. Researchers say that this has a great impact on the environment. Apart from causing coastal erosion, sand mining also erodes river banks and destroys the ocean and beaches. It also impacts fisheries and communities.
In fact, illegal sand mining can change international boundaries, such as when the sand islands in Indonesia disappeared. In China, “sand extinction” is a real thing, and it has caused a massive decline in the water levels of Poyang Lake, China’s biggest freshwater lake.
Other Reasons You Shouldn’t Take Beach Sand
Apart from the serious environmental damage and violent criminal activities associated with it, you should avoid taking sand from the beach because of practical reasons.
For instance, the types of sand you’ll get won’t always be the same. Sand types can vary in size, weight, texture, and color. The color of the sand, for instance, depends on the minerals found in the area — black sand is found near volcanic rock and pink sand can be found near pink-colored coral.
On top of that, your usage of the sand will be affected if you pick the wrong type. Many people take sand from the beach for landscaping or to use it to fill a sandbox. In the latter’s case, using beach sand for a sandbox isn’t a good idea.
Most beach sand types are fine and silt-like — they tend to stick to the and are hard to remove. This isn’t the best scenario for kids playing in a sandbox. Their parents will also probably be unpleasantly surprised to find fine sand all over their children’s bodies.
Moreover, sand is heavy, and it’s heavier when it’s damp. The logistic of bringing sand from the beach is complex, to say the least. You’ll also want to avoid authorities that check for such contraband.
Overall, it’s best to leave beach sand alone on the beach where they belong. If you need sand for a sandbox, opt for sand that has larger grains and that is not stolen from a beach. A beach is a great place, and everybody wants to preserve its beauty.
Preserving sand and not overexploiting it are just some of the crucial steps that governments around the world are supporting. Instead of collecting sand, try collecting seashells, which are legal to take home from a beach.
About The Author: Michael is an aspiring lawyer who likes to spend his free time researching different topics of law, especially about what is legal and what is not. He enjoys reading articles, watching documentaries, and attending lectures to become more informed about the law. He hopes that one day he will be able to use this knowledge to help people in need. Michael also has a passion for writing which led him to pursue journalism as his minor in college.
Through his studies, he has learned how to write professionally with clarity and precision. He is currently writing a novel about the life of a young lawyer who fights for justice in a world that is filled with corruption. Michael hopes to use his skills in writing and researching to pursue a career as an attorney one day. In addition, he also volunteers at legal aid clinics to gain more experience. From this volunteering experience, he has been able to help people better understand their rights and the legal system.
Michael is a dedicated individual with a passion for law and writing, and these qualities make him an excellent candidate for any legal field. He is eager to use his skillset to prove himself as a lawyer in order to contribute in making the world a better place.