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Palau initiates ban of toxic sunscreens

by Daria Blackwell / OCC 3 Jan 03:26 UTC
Michael Fox, WHOI postdoctoral scholar and lead author of the study, sampling coral on Pulo Anna Island, Palau. © Brian Zgliczynski

On 1 January, the island's waters also became a marine sanctuary, closing 80% of its exclusive economic zone to fishing and other marine activities.

The tiny Pacific island nation of Palau, lying roughly halfway between Japan and Australia, has become the first country in the world to ban sunscreens considered toxic to coral reefs. Palau is renowned for its marine life and is regarded as one of the world's best diving destinations. The government is concerned that its popularity is coming at a cost, given scientific evidence that the chemicals found in most sunscreens are toxic to corals, even in minute quantities.

From the 1st of January, any reef-toxic sunscreen imported or sold in Palau will be confiscated and the owner will be fined US$1,000 (€893). The marine sanctuary also prohibits commercial fishing in about 500,000 square kilometres (190,000 square miles) of ocean. Foreign fleets working in the limited fishing area must now land their catch in Palau and then pay an export tax. The legislation ensures Palau has first rights to purchase fish caught in the area to satisfy the local demand before exports are allowed.

In 2009, Palau moved to prevent shark finning by establishing the world's first shark sanctuary.

Biew the list of banned substances here.

This article has been provided by the courtesy of the Ocean Cruising Club.

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