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Removal of sand from Territory’s beaches is an offence

Removal of sand from Territory’s beaches is an offence

Residents of the Virgin Islands are reminded that in accordance with the Beach Protection Ordinance CAP 233. 1985, it is illegal to carry out sand mining activities at the Territory’s beaches.
Minister for Natural Resources and Labour the Honourable Melvin M. Turnbull (R2) said removal of any natural barrier against the sea including sand, stone, gravel or shingle from any land that is part of the shoreline is not allowed. He said removal of even small quantities from beaches results in damage over a long period.

Honourable Turnbull said, “Human activities such as illegal sand mining and filling in of our ponds have had a negative effect on our beaches like Josiah Bay and Cane Garden Bay. This coupled with natural extreme weather events like floods and hurricanes, which have also negatively affected the integrity of our beaches and the loss of coastal vegetation. Now more than ever, our beaches are susceptible to erosion and hence must be protected.”

Honourable Turnbull stated that beaches are not only important for recreation, but that they also support nesting leatherback and hawksbill turtles and seabirds along the shore.

The minister said any person removing sand from the beach would be guilty of an offence and is liable to a fine penalty or imprisonment for a term of 6 months or both; and in addition, thereto, any boat, vehicle or animal used in connection with the commission of the offence is liable to forfeiture.

A study in 2013 study titled, “Tourism Value of the Environment” carried out by the Institute of Environmental Studies; University of Amsterdam found that 75.8% of tourists surveyed agreed “Beaches in the BVI are particularly beautiful”. Based on the findings of their study, the researchers concluded, “Beaches are the most important ecological assets of the BVI and may well be considered the engine of the economy. For this reason, the beaches and the ecosystems supporting this ecological asset should be managed well.”

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour is committed to the preservation of the Virgin Islands ecosystems. For further information, please contact the ministry at telephone number 468-2147 or email nrl@gov.vg.
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