People being people, however, simply enacting a law means nothing unless it’s enforced – and enforcing it they are! “They” are the the Guardia di Finanza (Italy’s finance police), working in concert with local police and the island’s Forest Rangers. The growth of online commerce has only exacerbated the problem. “We found a website that was selling our sand as souvenirs,” a spokesperson for the Forest Rangers told CNN. “It’s become a very known phenomenon here in Europe.” (image via Mark McElroy)
Leave Only Footprints, Take Only Pictures
Once authorities became aware of the online selling sites, they began monitoring them to learn what was being sold and, by inference, where the items originated. Police then instituted targeted checks on departing travelers at Olbia Costa Smeralda Airport – anyone caught with contraband was fined on the spot, often quite severely. Case in point: a French tourist found with more than four pounds of local sand in his luggage was fined 1,000 euros (about $1,220). Of course, the purloined sand was seized and returned to the beach from which it was surreptitiously scooped. (image via Daniele)
One if by air and “too” if by ship? Yes indeed: A French couple waiting to board a ferry off the island face between 1 and 6 years in jail after customs agents discovered 40 kilograms (88 pounds) of white sand packed into 14 plastic bottles hidden in their car. So much for stocking up your “sand bar”, mes amis! (image via nicholas vadilonga)
It’s thought that the allure of big payoffs from online sellers is contributing not only to a rise in sand and shell stealing, but increased quantities per seizure. The amount of the fines has risen accordingly. Recent statistics published by police show that 41 people fined for stealing sand were issued fines ranging from 500 to 3,000 euros ($600 to $3,650). So peeps: pay attention if you don’t want to pay up! Sardinia’s beaches are one of the few natural scenic vacation wonders that are still within reach… so if you or future travelers want to see them again, reach only for your phone or camera. (image via Roman Königshofer)
Think humans aren’t the only threats beaches face? Check out Spoiled Shore: Storms Trash Golden Sands Beach!