This Island Nation Is Banning Sunscreen to Save Its Coral Reefs

Nov 2, 2018

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Following a decision from Hawaiian officials earlier this year to pass a first-of-its-kind law to ban the sale of certain over-the-counter sunscreens deemed harmful to coral reefs, the Pacific island nation of Palau, which leans heavily on the tourism and fishing industries to support its population of 21,000, will soon follow suit.

Palau’s president, Tommy Remengesau Jr., has signed legislation that would put into place a similar law, banning all “reef-toxic” products by 2020, in the hopes of protecting the country’s coral reefs. “Reef-toxic” sunscreens are defined in the law as a product containing “any one of 10 chemicals” and leaves open the possibility for more to be added to the list.

According to the AP, “Banned sunscreens will be confiscated from tourists who carry them into the country, and merchants selling the banned products will be fined up to $1,000.”

Remengesau hopes the penalties will not only educate tourists, but also possibly scare a few away from island, which sits north of Indonesia and east of the Philippines, altogether. The AP reports that Remengesau’s motivation for passing the new law “was a 2017 report which found that sunscreen products were widespread in Palau’s famed Jellyfish Lake, which was closed for more than a year due to declining jellyfish numbers before being recently reopened.”

The president went on to say that research has shown that “plastic waste, chemical pollution, resource overconsumption, and climate change all continue to threaten the health of [Palau’s] pristine paradise.”

Hawaii’s Senate Bill 2571, which received almost unanimous support across the House and the Senate, prohibits the sale and distribution of sunblock containing chemicals found to be especially toxic — including oxybenzone and octinoxate — to marine ecology.

The AP reports that “Scientists have found that some chemicals in sunscreen can be toxic to coral reefs, which are a vital part of the ocean ecosystem as well as a popular draw for tourists,” but that “some critics say there aren’t enough independent scientific studies on the issue while others worry that people will suffer from too much sun exposure if they stop using the products.”

Travelers can find “reef-friendly” products on shelves already, but beware of companies such as Sunsafe and Solaricare, which are hawking sunscreen pills that say they can prevent sunburn but do not meet the FDA’s safety and effectiveness standards. 


Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.