In a context of environmental awareness, some countries have chosen to ban the use of sunscreen on their beaches. This decision aims to preserve marine ecosystems, especially corals. Find out here which destinations apply this regulation and the reasons why they do so.
Destinations affected by the sunscreen ban
Several tourist destinations have decided to take strict measures regarding the use of sunscreen on their beaches:
- Palau : This small archipelago located in the Pacific Ocean was the first to ban sunscreen in 2018.
- Island of Bonaire : This island in the Netherlands Antilles has followed suit by also banning sunscreens containing certain chemical components from January 2021.
- Hawaii : This US state implemented a similar law in January 2021, aimed at protecting its coral reefs.
- US Virgin Islands : These Caribbean islands also passed legislation banning sunscreens harmful to the marine environment in March 2020.
- Zanzibar Island : The archipelago of Zanzibar, in Tanzania, has also banned sunscreens containing components harmful to corals.
These destinations usually impose fines on offenders. Divers and vacationers are therefore encouraged to find out about the regulations in force before setting off on a trip.
What are the offending components?
Sunscreens containing certain types of chemical components are considered harmful to the marine environment. These substances include:
- 4-methylbenzylidine camphor
These substances have been identified as being particularly toxic to corals and other marine organisms.
Why ban certain sunscreens on the beaches?
There are several reasons that lead governments to put in place legislation to limit the use of sunscreens containing dangerous chemicals:
The protection of coral reefs
Coral reefs are complex and fragile ecosystems that support a great diversity of marine life. Chemicals found in some sunscreens can cause coral death and disrupt their reproductive process, leading to their decline.
The impact on the marine food chain
Corals aren’t the only victims of the chemicals in sunscreen. Other marine organisms, such as fish and plankton, can also be affected by these substances. This can have a negative impact on the entire marine food chain and disrupt ecological balances.
The socio-economic role of coral reefs
In addition to their ecological importance, coral reefs also have a major economic role for many regions of the world. They attract tourists, generate income from fishing and are a source of food for local populations. The progressive disappearance of corals therefore has harmful socio-economic consequences.
What alternatives to harmful sunscreens?
Faced with this problem, it is advisable to favor solutions that respect the environment to protect yourself from the sun:
- Use “coral safe” sunscreen : Many manufacturers now offer sunscreens without the offending chemical components. These products are generally labeled “coral safe” or “reef friendly”.
- Wear sun protection clothing : It is possible to protect yourself from the sun by wearing appropriate clothing, such as anti-UV t-shirts and wide-brimmed hats.
- Get in the shade : Parasols and other protection against the sun can reduce exposure to UV rays and limit the use of sunscreen.
By adopting these responsible behaviors, holidaymakers contribute to preserving marine ecosystems and guaranteeing the sustainability of tourist destinations affected by the ban on harmful sunscreens.