UNEP/GRID-Geneva is leading the Global Marine Sand Watch, a platform to help countries and stakeholders monitor dredging activities in near real-time towards the goal of capacity building, development of guidelines and best practices for sand extraction. Built in collaboration with the Global Fishing Watch, the University of California Santa Barbara and Google, the platform will enable nation states and stakeholders to address the unprecedented and quickly increasing socio-economic demands for marine sand resources using near-real time data and information. 

This platform could drastically reduce the overall costs of monitoring dredging and dumping activities in offshore and coastal areas by providing free monitoring services to all stakeholders.

How does it work?

Dredging vessels emit a signal using “automatic identification system (AIS)”, which provides their identification, position and other information. Using these transponder signals, it is possible to produce a track of the vessel's journeys; these tracks are different for each activity. In depth analysis by UNEP/GRID-Geneva of thousands of vessels shows that dredging and dumping activities can be identified and quantified using empirical mathematical formulas created by UNEP/GRID-Geneva’s in-house dredging experts. The same formulas are also able to distinguish activities such as transiting and discharging material to shore. 

The platform will be launched March 2023.