Maui, HI–In an effort to prevent depletion of their unique reef habitat, Maui County authorities implemented a new law prohibiting the use, distribution, and sale of non-mineral sunscreens.
The new law (Ordinance number 5306) specifies that only sunscreens that use active ingredients (namely zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) are allowed to be sold and used on the ‘Valley Isle’ without a prescription. The ban was brought into effect on October 1, 2022.
Non-mineral-based sunscreens “are a known pollutant that puts reefs and marine habitats at increased risk and leaves them more vulnerable to climate change impacts.”
“This ordinance is one important step to protect our coral reefs, which provide the first defense against erosion from sea-level rise and are critically important for biodiversity, recreation, food sources, and our tourism industry,” said Maui councilmember Kelly King.
King added said that authorities can fine violators up to $1000, further stating that a complaint-based warning system was going to be used.
“It’s not like we have the sunscreen police driving around, looking at people’s sunscreens and reading labels,” King explained, clarifying that the ban is targetted at retailers and distributors rather than tourists and residents.
“It’s highly unlikely that a tourist is going to get a warning and then be in the same place, you know, for the second warning and ever get a fine. But once we can eliminate the distribution,” King said, “then I think that slows it. That’ll make a tremendous difference.”
The Maui County report also advises tourists to use rub-on creams rather than sprays-on which could land on the sand and get washed into the ocean.
Maui County has entered into an agreement with the Maui Visitors and Convention Bureau to place “reef-friendly” sunscreen dispensers around the island — an effort aimed at raising awareness and promoting environment-friendly sunscreens
Read more in this news release.