The Pacific nation of Palau is pioneering a ban on using “reef-toxic” sunscreens early this year, introducing strict environment measures to preserve one of the world’s largest marine sanctuaries.
Palau President Thomas Remengesau Jr. said in a report that “Environment is the nest of life.” The government aims to protect the country’s coral reefs recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
According to the International Coral Reef Foundation, the law bans sunscreens containing environmental pollutants, such as oxybenzone and octinoxate.
The government originally signed the law in 2019 but took full effect on January 1 this year. It was enacted as the country is becoming a popular diving spot, fearing environmental costs may soon take a toll.
The President said the country hosts four boats of tourists an hour in a usual day, leading to concerns of build-up of chemicals in reefs.
“We’re just looking at what we can do to prevent pollution getting into the environment,” he said.
Further, anyone who will not follow the law will have to pay a fine of $1,000. Meanwhile, the immigration will confiscate banned sunscreens from tourists entering the country as soon as they arrive from the airport.
In May this year, Hawaii follows Palau’s steps to prevent pollution in the ocean. The law will take effect in 2021.