Last week the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation banned coral damaging sunscreen in National Parks in Thailand helping to protect coral reefs and marine life.
The ban was put in place to stop people from wearing harmful sunscreen whilst swimming in the ocean. Department director General, Thanya Nethithammakul said “Studies have found that several chemical compounds in sunscreen products are harmful to coral larvae, affecting their reproductive systems and causing coral bleaching,”
The key point here is that without coral reefs, marine life becomes endangered. Without marine life, the entire ocean and subsequently humanity also become endangered.
The damage from these chemicals doesn’t stop at coral reefs. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), around 25% of all marine life relies on coral reefs at some point in their lives. “Sunscreen pollution can impact not just coral, but potentially all of the organisms on a coral reef,” Craig Downs, a forensic ecotoxicologist, told CNN. Once their habitats are destroyed, these animals’ lives are irrevocably changed.
Although it is unclear how this new law will be enforced, violators will face a fine of up to 100,000 baht.
Sunscreens containing Oxybenzone (Benzophenone-3, BP-3), Octinoxate (Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate), 4-Methylbenzylid Camphor (4MBC) and Butylparaben will be banned, said the department director.
Zinc oxide-based sunscreen products, which are found in studies to be safe for marine creatures, are being encouraged as an alternative.
Although this may be a difficult ban to enforce, this is an important step to raise awareness around the importance of coral reefs, marine life and overall ocean health.
Over the next few years, as tourism returns to Thailand, the environmental damage caused by tourism may also make a comeback. Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have seen tourist hotspots begin to heal; clearer and cleaner oceans and more active sea life. It is important to keep reminding ourselves that sustainability is key in the long-term health of Thailand’s environment as well as the tourism industry. The more sustainable tourism and environmental laws in this sector, the better!