During the last decade, Asilah's beaches have been destroyed. Their natural beauty has been devastated due to years of sand mining, as large parts of the beachfront have been almost stripped bare of their sand. Their condition threatens severe long-term environmental damage as well as undermining tourism, the main driving force behind this city's economy. Sand mining reached its peak between 2012 and 2014, as Asilah saw a steep increase in the construction of apartments, homes, hotels and resort projects with most of the investment coming from real estate developers based in Fez and Tangier rather than the city itself. 
Since desert sand is not considered suitable for the production of cement, digging focused on coastal areas. Asilah is one of the hotspots for this exploitation. More than half of the sand is thereby extracted illegally since the Moroccan government included the theft of sand into article 517 of their criminal code in 2011 . The penalty ranges from a fine of 500 Dirham per cubic meter of sand to five years in prison. But the law is unfortunately very rarely applied according to the residents. 
Asilah is not the only Moroccan city to have suffered sand exploitation. Similar operations have been documented along the country's Atlantic shoreline in nearby Larache, as well as in Kenitra and as far south as Dakhla, sometimes on an industrial scale so large that entire kilometres of coastline have been destroyed. The common culprit is a demand for cement for which sand is an essential ingredient. 
It is the economic and cultural toll of sand mining that has finally persuaded the city to address the issue. This summer, sand was imported to a handful of Asilah's beaches in an attempt to make them more accommodating and presentable for the tourist season. The measure, however, is only a temporary fix to a larger problem. But concerned residents express little confidence in the government's willingness to take the long-term health of the environment into account, despite Morocco's commitments to sustainable development policies. Doing so, they argue, conflicts with the state's appetite for economic growth and profit. 
Coastal Care, a foundation whose main mission is to raise awareness of the many unsustainable practices that are harming the world's beaches and coasts and to advocate for sensible, science-based policies and regulations that will protect and preserve coastlines and beaches around the world , created an online map and database showing the different cases of sand mining around the world including cases from Morocco.