Green group praises Cambodian ban on sand export

(AP) — PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – An environmental watchdog group praised Cambodia on Wednesday for banning the export of sand, the dredging of which the group says degrades coastlines and depletes fish populations.

The London-based group Global Witness said it was pleased that Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government responded to its concerns over the potentially devastating impacts of sand dredging.

Hun Sen announced a partial ban on the practice and a total ban on exports on May 8.

Most sand exports have gone to Singapore, which has an ambitious land reclamation project, the group said. Indonesia had been Singapore’s main supplier of sand until January 2007, when the government in Jakarta banned its export.

The group-which has been critical of the country’s attitude toward the exploitation of natural resources-said the ban was a positive first step.

In a report issued three months ago, Global Witness said that “a huge sand dredging operation” began in Cambodia’s Koh Kong province last year.

The group estimated the activity to be worth at least $8.6 million per year in Cambodia.


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