Maui Sand is Disappearing Fast

Maui Sand is Disappearing Fast

Over 60 years of sand exports are depleting Maui’s finite sand Stocks. Here is a picture of the “sand Barge” that departs to Oahu about twice a week (96 barges per year in 2005). Massive amounts of sand are taken from an inland quarry, and trucked in huge convoys to Kahului harbor, where is is loaded onto a massive Sand Barge and then shipped out fast. It is estimated that we are running out of sand, possibly within 5-7 years. When that happens we will have no local land based sand supply left for beach restoration projects or other needs in the future. The rate of Maui sand exports is accelerating, possibly because these people fear that their permits would be revoked when people discover the magnitude of this problem.

Mr. ROB PARSONS (Environment Coordinator, Maui County) says more than 2 million tons of inland sand is excavated every year, and the majority of it isn’t even used locally, but gets shipped off to Honolulu.

Mr. PARSONS: In fiscal year ’04, the Harbor Master said the sand barge left Kahului for Oahu 61 times. The following year, fiscal year ’05, it left 96 times. To me, that’s a dramatic and even shocking increase.

Maui Sand being Exported to Oahu, on the sand Barge in Kahului Harbor

photograph: “Forest & Kim Starr“.


28 thoughts on “Maui Sand is Disappearing Fast

  1. Stop taking what isn’t yours f****rs !!! How much longer will our land suffer? You people take water , land and now sand ? I am Hawaiian and am from this land. When you people can’t eat money or drink diamonds and gold or the 100,000 $ car you drive …. what will you do then? Ask to be taught how to live off the land?

  2. In the world of coastal restoration, sand is gold. If the sand is not the same as native sand grain size, it will not work. This sand, once lost, cannot be replaced.

  3. I believe that nothing should be taken in Hawaii and placed somewhere else. What you guys are doing is disrespectful not to just our People or our culture but to the land it’s self. Who gives you guys the right to take from our land for your personal uses to sell it is wrong. This is why no locals show you or the government respect. The sand was never ours or your it was that land and you dare take it. I pray the oceans waves rise higher then building to break your boats and let the sand reaturn to its rightful place. No one has a right to take things that arnt theirs so why are so why are you doing this especially without the people who live there knowing about it. I believe it’s because your like snakes you act like your doing nothing wrong when in actual reality you are then when confronted you say we have no right to ask you. Just remember karma is a bitch and you will get yours. Also if you haven’t noticed what it is your taking it’s making Hawaii not Hawaii so thanks for fucking up our islands more for your stupid pathetic business. And mind you the damages your doing is just adding to the rest of damages that your great America has done. All of you have shown no respect all you do is take take take. So now I see what your nation is built up on was to disrespect and take what ever you want. Typical white man. You and your nation will get yours. I promise you this.

  4. Please stop this taping of our land. Just like the ticks and shells leave the land where it belongs.
    Some very bad things may happen to those who are involved in making this happen – not the least of which
    Is harming our “Aina”.

  5. Unfair for Maui to supply Oahu with its sand. Just like how they want Maui to provide electric for Oahu through an underground cable. Each island should be mandated to provide for its own island.

  6. Aloha,

    I’m very interested in this article about the sand removal from Maui. I notice accounts from 2006 and 2007, but I’m wondering if this is a current practice? And if so, do you know who is involved with this (eg. companies, individuals). I would like to explore this further. Mahalo for shining light on happening in our home.


    1. KŪ’Ē sand-mining on Maui at mining sites & at kahului harbor, especially when you see one empty sand barge tied up at the dock in kahului harbor.

  7. What they do on one island affects all islands. Trying to use another islands resource to correct a mistake they did on another island is not the solution. Take care of the island that takes care of you , instead of taking more and more that it’s life sustaining abilities and building non nature conserving facilities that are like cancer to the lands. Unable to provide life in the spots that continue to be developed until there are no life sustaining ability for the land itself 🙁 rethink, retrain, re-education the true important stuff of this islands and world witch is nature and the life it has and shares with us provided by the good Lord above. We don’t need to destroy the lands to please our convenience and pockets. It’s hurting while we think we are benefiting from the now days development and mentality and in actuality, all that lives and have lived here are getting harmed by people that we have no say against. Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono

  8. Rob Parsons says more than 2 million tons of inland sand is excavated every year, and the majority of it isn’t even used locally, but gets shipped off to Honolulu.

  9. Ask your governor, your Maui mayor, your Legislatures. They all must know something about this. Nothing gets taken away or sold to foreign entities without their knowledge.

  10. What is most confusing to me is the law says any mineral resources are owned by the government, not land owners, so how is sand not a mineral resource, like oil, metals, gems…

  11. Very small minded people we have in office. Fix one problem create 5 more problems. That is because of the people who are elected in office and the big money men and women who buy their vote and use them as pawns for their own agenda…but I’ll save that for another day. The sand is being diverted to Oahu because tourism is the big money maker in Hawaii and Waikiki beach is washing away as well as all the other beaches around the islands but they will never fix the other beaches because it’s not the money maker like Waikiki. Besides why try and fix the main problem when short term solutions make you look good as far as cost and you did what you said you’d do. Whatever happens down the line in the future is the next elected persons fault!!! Just saying.

  12. Oh my! My husband, Bruce Bowen a teacher on Molokai, single handedly reported a sand rip-off on the island of Molokai. He had reported this environmental issue several times until finally was told he needed proof. He took movies of the excavation on the West end of Molokai and Life of the Land took the proof to the Governors office. This happened in the 1970’s. We ended up
    Leaving Molokai due to the hassle our family experienced. Many years later after a court case we received a small newspaper article stating that the corporation that allowed the removal of the sand had to pay millions of dollars back to the people of Hawaii. The sand was being barged to Oahu to build condos & hotels. Bruce Bowen passed away suddenly on 1-19-1991 at age 47. He was indeed a special man… Ran for county council, wrote & published his own underground newspaper, a teacher, environmentalist, surfer and lover of the land and people in Hawaii . I have often thought I should write about his life. Especially his bravery and courage to do the right thing in life.

    1. Thank you for sharing his story. Citizen Investigators like your late husband do make a difference. Finally, the News has got a hold of this story on Maui so I hope we finally get some action on this issue.

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