This Country Fines Tourists ₹ 2 Lakh for Picking Rocks from Its Beaches

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landscape photography of trees on shoreline
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Tourists visiting Lanzarote and Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands are being warned against taking sand, stones, and rocks from beaches. Doing so can result in hefty fines ranging from 128 pounds (Rs 13478) to 2,563 pounds (Rs 2,69879), The New York Post.

This seemingly harmless tradition of collecting souvenirs is having a detrimental impact on the islands’ ecosystems. Authorities report that Lanzarote loses roughly a tonnes of volcanic material from its beaches each year, while Fuerteventura’s famous “Popcorn Beach” loses a staggering tonnene of sand every month, reported the news portal.

Removing this material disrupts the natural balance of the shorelines and puts them at risk. Tourists caught taking the popcorn-shaped pebbles face fines between 128 and 512 pounds, while those taking larger amounts could be hit with the maximum penalty.

This crackdown comes amid concerns about the Canary Islands reaching a tipping point due to mass tourism. Tenerife recently declared a water emergency due to severe drought conditions, with some officials blaming tourist consumption for straining resources. One hotel was found to be using four times more water per guest than a local resident.

With a resident population of under a million compared to over 5 million tourists last year, experts fear a “systemic collapse” if pressure on resources continues. Tenerife has already banned using drinking water in gardens and pools in response to the drought.

The authorities face a challenge as most of the seized material at Lanzarote and Fuerteventura Airports cannot lead to offenders being punished. This is due to the difficulty in proving whether rocks, stones, or sand have been removed from protected areas or not.

The Canary Islands consist of seven main islands: Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, La Palma, La Gomera, and El Hierro. Each island has its own distinct character and attractions. Tenerife is the largest island and home to Mount Teide, the highest mountain in Spain. 

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