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Anger over sea glass jewellery sales

Local artists have expressed anger after a United States jewellery maker admitted taking 70lbs of sea glass from the Island in suitcases.

Becky Fox, from Erie, Pennsylvania, told the Erie Times-News that she visited the Island in January after being invited by a local sea glass collector and left with two suitcases filled with glass to make jewellery to sell.

In the wake of the article, several local artists have spoken out against Mrs Fox taking such large quantities of sea glass and questioned why it would be allowed by customs.

Kelly Diel, who sells sea glass jewellery from her store Seaglass Art in St George’s, said that Mrs Fox is far from the only one taking large quantities of sea glass from Bermuda’s beaches.

“We have in place with the cruise ships that their passengers are told they cannot take sand or sea glass from the beach because they will confiscate it if they find it, and they do confiscate it,” she said. “This is in place with the cruise ships. This is not in place at the airport, and we have now reached the point that it needs to be.

“People are willing to pay the $50 or $100 of overweight charges and they are filling suitcases. I know a woman who comes down here every year with her family, fills a suitcase and sells the glass from a website in Philadelphia. They do this every year.

“Nobody has any objections if they want to fill a sandwich bag, but when they are going for 70lbs of sea glass somebody should do something.”

Lexy Correia, an artist and co-owner of DNA Creative Shoppe, said: “Even though the blocking of cruise ship passengers from taking this precious commodity has been useful, this blatant greediness is just ridiculous and not fair to the handful of local artists who do use it and only take what they need.

“For her to even be able to leave the island with that much is ridiculous. I’m sure if she had that much Bermuda sand in a suitcase it would have been confiscated.”

She also noted that in an online video, Mrs Fox had claimed the beach was a “dump”, adding: “She really has some nerve.”

Dozens of visitors on The Royal Gazette Facebook page expressed similar sentiments. Robert Peters wrote: “Finding sea glass in Bermuda may be a great memory, or a keepsake, but exporting for profit is downright wrong. When I look for glass, I take a few pieces, leaving some for the next person who might like to enjoy it.”

Janet Percy meanwhile said: “We are a very small island community with much beauty to offer visitors. We have very sensibly protected some of our precious natural resources by prohibiting the removal of beach sand and various shells, sea fans and corals so that these treasures are available for future generations to enjoy.

“Sea glass is regarded as a treasured keepsake when found on our beaches by locals and visitors alike, and is used extensively by local artisans, but when an American visitor who is in the business of making jewellery from sea glass has the unmitigated gall to take 70lbs of it home with the intention of selling it as highly valued Bermuda glass, something is very wrong.”