Palau, an archipelago of more than 500 islands in the Pacific Ocean, has reportedly announced that starting 2020, it will be enforcing a ban on reef-toxic sunscreens that are jeopardizing the health of the nation’s famed coral reefs.
Reports claim, the toxic sunscreen ban – aimed at stopping chemical pollution across the country’s renowned beaches and coral sites – would be the first of its kind in the world.
According to a report by Channel NewsAsia, the nation – which lies halfway between Japan and Australia – is considered to be one of the best diving destinations in the world, an accolade that is responsible for boosting the country’s tourism industry. However, the government of Palau has raised concerns that the nation’s growing popularity among tourists is coming at a cost.
A spokesperson for the President of Palau, Tommy Remengesau stated that there is significant scientific evidence which provides factual information that most of the sunscreens in the market today are extremely toxic to corals, even when administered in minute doses.
Reportedly, the nation’s coral reef diving sites typically draw in around four boats full of tourists every hour on any given day. This eventually causes gallons of toxic chemical-based sunscreens to be dumped into the ocean, near the diving and snorkeling sites, which may cause the reef to reach a dangerous tipping point.
Reports claim, following the enforcement of the ban, individuals caught importing or selling banned sunscreens would be fined $1000. Moreover, tourists who bring in their own bottle of sunscreen would have it confiscated.
President Remengesau, in a parliament speech after the passing of the bill, stated that confiscation of banned sunscreens would act as enough of a deterrent for their non-commercial use. Remengesau further added that the ban walks a delicate balance between scaring tourists away and educating them.
According to reports, the government intends to bring the ban into effect from January 1, 2020.