Palau bans ‘reef-toxic’ sunscreen

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Palau has become the first country to impose a ban on “reef-toxic” sunscreens to protect its coral reef. The Pacific island nation has introduced strict environmental measures that include creating one of the world’s largest marine sanctuaries. The legislation also requires dive and tour operators to starts providing customers with reusable cups, straws and food containers.

Palau, a major scuba diving destination, that regularly packed with divers were concerned that a build-up of these harmful chemicals would cause irreparably damage to the reefs. Starting from Jan 1 2020, any reef-toxic sunscreen imported or sold in Palau will be confiscated and the owner will be fined $1,000.

According to a public notice posted by the Palau government, reef-toxic sunscreens are those that contain any of the following prohibited chemicals:

  • Oxybenzone (BP3)
  • Octylmethoxycinnamate (EHMC)
  • Octocrylene (OC)
  • 4-methyl-benzylidene camphor (4MBC)
  • Triclosan
  • Methyl Paraben
  • Ethyl Paraben
  • Butyl Paraben
  • Benzyl Paraben
  • Phenoxythanol

The marine sanctuary legislation will see Palau closing 80% of its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) to fishing and other marine activities including mining and shark finning. Foreign fleets working in the limited fishing area is now required to land their catch in Palau and pay an export tax.

Key Highlights

  • Any tourist entering a country with banned sunscreen will have to face fines up to USD 1,000.
  • Scientists have found that chemicals contained in sunscreen, which enters the ocean through different means, causes great harm to coral reefs.
  • Dive and tour operators to starts providing customers with reusable cups, straws and food containers.
  • Closing 80% of its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) to fishing and other marine activities

More information can be found at the International Coral Reef Initiative.