Every year, officials working at the Sardinian ports and airports confiscate shells and stones from tourists leaving the island, and who want a memento from their vacation. The entire mass of the material thus collected apparently adds up to 5 tonnes!
When you put it into perspective, maybe you would be able to comprehend why the regional authorities have outlawed the seemingly innocuous practice of beach souvenir collection.
There’s even an activist group on the Italian island, called ‘Sardinia robbed and plundered’ (Sardinia rubata e depredata), which tries to raise awareness and educate tourists about the need to respect and protect the environment of their favourite destination.
(Tourists are likely) trying desperately, but unfortunately in vain, to take a piece of it away [in] their hands, instead of keeping memories in their hearts,” wrote an activist from the group, as quoted by Euronews.
The fines can be salty like the sea
The Sardinian regional government has declared that the beaches, much like the rest of the living (flora, fauna) and non-living environment (historical buildings, mountains) are part of the heritage and as such it is under the protection of the law.
That specific law, in force since 2017, states that: “Anyone who removes, holds, even sells small quantities of sand, pebbles, pebbles or shells from the coast or the sea is subject to an administrative fine ranging from 500 to 3,000 euros.”
And if you think that piece of legislation is a joke, just recently a Frenchman was caught trying to sneak out some 41 kilos of beach sand stuffed in his car trunk. In his case, he had collected the material from the desolate Lampianu beach, famous for its fine greyish sand.
The offender has to pay the upper fine amount, but more importantly, his story shows the need for such legislation and vigilance as things considered a common good could always be appropriated by someone for his personal interest.
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