Reef-Safe Sunscreens

Apr 2, 2021 | General Information

Previous video articles by Tom Barefoot’s Tours have discussed the importance of residents and visitors using reef-safe sunscreens to protect coral reefs around Hawaii. Hawaii’s state Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) has mandated that, as of January 2021, only reef-safe sunscreens can be used on commercial tour vessels around Hawaii. As of Jan. 1, 2020, however, sunscreens containing chemicals have been banned for use by commercial vessels in Kealakekua Bay on the Big Island, a year before the statewide ban takes effect.

Many tour companies operating in the Bay already had in fact already been providing reef-safe sunscreen to their customers for several years. These tour operators inform their customers that the chemicals in sunscreens make the coral sterile beyond recovery. Ocean waters in the Bay don’t circulate fast enough to disperse the accumulations of sunscreen from large numbers of people enjoying its waters.

In 2018, Hawaii’s lawmakers passed a bill banning the sale of sunscreens with the chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate. Studies have shown that those chemicals are toxic to reefs and marine life. The DLNR strongly recommends that people use only mineral-based sunscreens – with no chemicals of any kind. Tour operators are hoping that Kealakekua’s sunscreen ban will send a strong message about reef-safe sunscreens to residents and visitors around the state.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *