Effect of Sand Mining on Palau’s Reef

This research paper attempts to address the consequences of dredging erratically in the quest for modernization and what these threats can pose to the society should this continue in an unsustainable manner. Over the years, the ocean and reefs of Paula have been an important source of food and livelihood to its people. It has also been the main driving force of revenue contributing to our economic growth.

Nonetheless, something is being done today that results in 1) disturbance of coastal marine ecosystems, 2) the destruction and disturbance of our local wildlife and livelihood of the people, 3) economic development in terms of our tourism industry, 4) reduced water quality, and finally, the extinction of certain ecosystems. That something is sand mining. Sand mining is a coastal activity, which refers to the actual removal of sand from the ocean floor. This activity is currently practiced in Paula where sand is removed from the reefs to be used for construction purposes.

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The reason why I live this particular topic should be addressed is that Palau’s reef and the species in it plays a vital role to the people. On top of that, sand mining practice in Paula is becoming an environmental issue as the demand for sand continues to increase in industry and construction. We might not recognize its effects today as we only have one mining operator here but we will in the near future. Not many have stopped to think for a minute about what will happen to our reefs after 25 more years of sand mining.

Our younger generations will definitely suffer from the negative impacts of his practice as it continues to grow gradually and slip out of our control. We need to find better solutions to this issue before our reefs become threatened with extinction. As our country develops and becomes more modernized, so will the demand for sand increases. Introduction The lives of the people of Paula have always been influenced by the resources of the sea around them. Palau’s 237, 800 square miles of ocean, including near shore waters and coral reefs, support abundant and diverse marine life that provides food and income to Palau’s 20,000+ residents.

Sand, one of those resources, is a loose incoherent mass of mineral materials and is a product of natural processes (Sand Mining). It is a non-renewable resource formed from the small, disintegrated particles of rocks and corals under the influence of weathering and abrasion. Sand plays different roles in the environment and has become an important mineral for the expansion of our society (Sand Mining). Without sand, there can be no concrete, no roads filling, no buildings, no glass making, and no sandpapers, and taken into its extreme, without sand there can be no sandy beaches and perhaps no oceans as well.

Sand protects coastal environment; it acts as a buffer against strong tidal waves and storm surges by reducing their impacts as they reach the shoreline (Sand Mining). It is a habitat for marine organisms and also plays an important role in our tourism industry as it is an essential part of our diving, snorkeling, and beach attractions. Without sand, one of the largest industries in the world, the construction industry would come to a halt.

Unregulated sand mining for construction and development purposes poses many negative threats that impair our reefs and the entire marine ecosystem, our local wildlife and our livelihoods, our economy, and even water resources. This thesis topic is important because eventually it will stress why we need to pay attention carefully to the effects of sand mining in Paula today, and what can happen as it expands indiscriminately. If we do not regulate the mining process (I. E. Decisions on where to mine, how much and how often, monitoring of the activity, inspection of licenses, etc. , we are seeking sustainability beyond empty measures, resources such as sand need to be valued for the ecological role it plays and the foundation it provides to society itself. It is crucial to recognize that there is n adequate amount of resources intact for future generations. Body Based on an interview conducted with Mr.. Rafael Localism who works for the Paula National Quarry as an Accounting Clerk, sand mining business in Paula has been in operation for the past 25 years. There is only one mining operator here at this point and it is the Paula National Quarry or in short, PAN.

This operation runs at Tap Kuaka, the mining site. Dredging operations are carried out depending on weather and tides with the use of parch, tack boats, and sand pump (Localism). It is often done during low tide (Localism). Although it is mentioned that there is only one mining operator in Paula, it is already affecting our environment especially our reefs. As they mine, the disturbance of underwater and sand causes turbidity and creates a muddy environment that is harmful for organisms such as corals that need a significant amount of direct sunlight (Sand Mining).

Furthermore, such sands will be salty and is not a good building material. Unstable sand mining also causes erosion and bed degradation and sedimentation, which often have severe consequences for aquatic species (Impacts of Sand Mining). All species, both fauna and fishes, require pacific habitat conditions to ensure long-term survival. Native species in the reefs are uniquely adapted to the habitat conditions that exist before we begin large-scale alterations.

These cause major habitat disruptions that favor some species over others and cause overall declines in biological diversity and productivity, in our entire marine ecosystem (Impacts of Sand Mining). Once our fisheries are destroyed, this can cause a big problem for us, Pullmans, because most local people rely on fishing for their livelihoods. We have always been dependent on our local wildlife and reefs by means of supplying our food as well as our income. Sand mining machinery and equipment destroys fishing nets and other fishing gears, which adds costs to the anglers.

Sand mining not only affects our marine ecosystem and our livelihoods, it also affects our economic development in terms of our tourism industry. Tourism is known to be the bread and butter of our economy. As we continue to extract sand from the reefs, we increase destruction of our marine life and its beauty. Tourists travel all around the globe here and willingly pay high prices Just to see these pristine reefs, dive sites, and beaches that we have that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Sand mining generates extra vessels traffic, which negatively impairs the sites.

There are chances of chemical/fuel spills and leakage from the excavation machinery that they use to remove sand from the ocean floor. When this happens regularly, it pollutes the sea and destroys its beauty causing tourism to slowly dissipate. Sand mining and dredging activities affect tourist attractions as well as water quality. The impacts include increased short-term turbidity at the mining site due to re-suspension of sediment, sedimentation due to stockpiling and dumping of excess mining materials and organic particular matter, and possibly oil pills (Impacts of Sand Mining).

Increased erosion increases suspended solids in the water at the excavation site and its vicinity. They may adversely affect water users, particularly, for domestic use and aquatic ecosystems. This can lead to water treatment cost. Seawater quality can also be contaminated due to subsoil of the waterbed being surfaced and this may reduce light penetration necessary for marine organisms to feed (Sand Mining).

Who knows, as we move into the future this activity can also pose threats of depletion of water resources, which may lead to avoidable food shortages and hardships for the people. With demand exploding and such resources being mined faster than nature can replenish, it creates a highly distorted supply-demand situation. Until now, we think that sand is a low-value, minor mineral that is inexhaustible. However, this has to change as demand for sand increases for construction purposes.

With our quest for modernization, we are substituting wood with sand to build concrete houses, offices, and apartments; we also need sand for basic infrastructure such as highways and parking lots that will eventually wipe out our reefs to extinction in the long run if we do not work with mining operators to ensure that sand mining is conducted sustainable. In order to minimize the detrimental effects of human activities that can cause alterations to the nature of our marine ecosystems and other ecosystems, we must follow regulatory and monitoring frameworks prepared for such activities that can become environmental issues as sand mining.

For instance, the Classification of Coastal Water Uses under Item (D) Class B Waters found within the Amendment to Republic of Paula Marine and Freshwater Quality Regulations, Chapter 2401-11-05 as follows: The uses to be protected in this class of waters are sand mining, compatible recreation, the support ND propagation of aquatic life, and aesthetic enjoyment. (2) It is the objective of this class of waters that sand mining be allowed but in such a manner and at such times as to minimize impacts on other uses.

Discharges of sediment associated with sand mining shall be controlled to the greatest extent practicable under existing technological and economic conditions, and any live or intact coral within the area shall not be disturbed. (3) The Class B designation shall apply only to clearly identified and delineated areas and shall be limited to areas that contain little or no coral and which have not en identified as providing important habitat for the support and propagation of aquatic life. 4) A baseline study, as required under I Chapter 2401-1-07 shall be conducted and provided to the Board before the Board will designate an area as Class B. In line with the Classification of Coastal Water Uses is the Erosion and Sedimentation control measures under Earthmoving Regulations provided by the Environmental Quality Protection Board (ESP.). Following are the control measures: (A) Limiting Exposed Area. All earthmoving activities shall be planned and undertaken in such a manner so as to minimize the area of disturbed land, reef or lagoon Erosion and Sedimentation Control Measures 1996). B) Containment of Underwater Sedimentation. All sedimentation resulting from underwater earthmoving activities shall be contained, confined and restricted by the best available means in such a manner that turbidity’s will be kept to a minimum (Erosion and Sedimentation Control Measures 1996). (C) Velocity Control. All facilities for the conveyance of water around, through, or from the project site shall be designed to reduce the velocity of flow in the facilities to a speed that will not cause significant erosion. This velocity in no case shall exceed 1. T/Sec (Erosion and Sedimentation Control Measures 1996). (D) Stabilizing. Within a section or area of the project, all slopes, channels, ditches or any disturbed area shall be stabilized as soon as possible after the final grade or final earthmoving has been completed (Erosion and Sedimentation Control Measures 1996). (E) Interim Stabilization. Where it is not possible to permanently stabilize a disturbed area immediately after the final earthmoving has been completed or where the activity stops for more than 14 days, interim stabilization measures shall be promptly implemented.

No earthmoving activity shall be conducted during times of inclement weather unless directed by the Board to prevent further accelerated erosion or sedimentation (Erosion and Sedimentation Control Measures 1996). (F) Containment of Fills and Reclaimed Land Within Bodies of Water or Tidal Zones. Before filling or land development within a body of water or tidal zone, adequate seawalls and/or breakwater facilities shall be constructed to safely contain the fill without failure and to prevent accelerated sedimentation (Erosion and Sedimentation Control Measures 1996). G) Collection of Runoff. All runoff from a project area shall be collected and diverted to facilities for removal of sediment (Erosion and Sedimentation Control Measures 1996). What can also be done is the mining operator regularly inspects mining licenses and stick to the agreement contracts that they have with other agencies such as Kronor State Government. Another recommendation is to require mining operators to create booms around the mining site so that turbidity does not disturb other aquatic species, and have ESP. ensure that they are practicing the procedure (Kantian).

We should seriously consider this issue and not exhaust all of our resources today, as some would be of valuable use of the younger generations tomorrow. Conclusion We now live in a world where more than half of it is modernized and the rest is on a quest to rapidly become so. Are we even thinking about the consequences that follow? In order to see the big picture clearly, we need to connect the dots of these effects mentioned above. With our Paula island being very small with limited natural resources, we should be able to understand it by now.

Our reefs play an important role in our livelihoods. We depend on it for a living. Coral reefs are an important asset to our islands” (Lobar et al. 212). If these sand mining and dredging operations continue indiscriminately in our reefs, the beauty and value of it will gradually disappear. It can also lead to corruption in our economic growth that could ultimately challenge us as well as our future generations in the end, and even worse sand mining could have devastating effects on water resources that lead to food and water shortages, which we simply benefit from in our everyday lives.

In order to use our resources sustainable, we need to take appropriate actions. We need to abide by inning regulations, policies, and procedures set forth by key agencies such as the ESP., our national government, etc. In the way they function. It is crucial to see that availability of natural resources depends on the integrity of ecosystems that provide them. Works Cited Lobar, Christopher S. , and Maria Schaefer. 2004. Tropical Pacific Island Environments. Guam: University of Guam Press/lagans Environments University of Guam, 1997.

Engineering, Metier K.. Personal Interview. 12 July 2013. Localism, Rafael. Personal Interview. 16 July 2013. Kantian, Stephan. Personal Interview. 16 July 2013. Chapter 2401-1 Earthmoving Regulations. 996. 2401-1-09 Erosion and Sedimentation Control Measures. Environmental Quality Protection Board (ESP.). “Sand Mining”. Online. Internet. Available: www. C-tempo. Org/studies/ sand_mining. PDF”almanacs of Sand Mining”. Online. Internet. Available: http:// authorities. Suds. Deed/three_issues_campanologists . Demodulations and Answers (Interview) What is the main purpose of sand mining in Paula? PAN: To provide sand for construction purposes. KS: To provide resources to meet the demand of their customers. How long has sand mining business been operating in the reefs of Paula? PAN: 25 years KS: Same as above. Is there a specific area in the reef where they can get sand? PAN: Yes. The only mining site is Tap Kuaka. KS: Yes. The only place where they can mine sand is the same as above. Does sand mining affect the species in the ocean?

PAN: No answer. KS: Yes. It affects the corals and the marine organisms around the site. Can sand mining affect attractions of tourists on our islands? PAN: No answer. KS: Yes. Palau’s reef is the main attraction of tourists who come here to snorkel and dive. Sand mining affects the beauty of our reef. How do we sand mine? PAN: Sand mining is carried out with the use of parch, tack boats, and sand pump. KS: No answer. Where do sand mining take place? Is it done in the shallow water or deep water?

PAN: Sand mining is done depending on the weather and tides. It is often done in the deep water during low tides. KS: No answer. Is there a group or groups of people monitoring sand miners while they’re on site? PAN: yes. KS: Kronor State Ranger Officers are responsible for monitoring mining activities at mining site.

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