Thailand bans coral-damaging sunscreens from marine parks

Bangkok, Aug 5 (EFE).- Thailand, one of the most visited countries in the world due to its spectacular tropical beaches, has banned from marine parks the use of sunscreens that contain four chemicals known to damage corals.

The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation said that the measure, which came into effect on Wednesday, was aimed at protecting the country’s coasts from products that “deteriorate coral reefs, destroy larvae, obstruct their reproductive system and cause coral bleaching.”

Studies have shown that even at extremely low concentrations, sunscreens cause the rapid and complete bleaching of hard corals.

In recent years, environmental experts have expressed concern about the damage caused to corals by mass tourism and some of the lotions used by tourists.

According to the Thai department’s announcement, sunscreens that contain oxybenzone, octinoxate, 4-methylbenzylidene camphor or butylparaben are now banned.

The Thai authorities have said that anyone violating the ban will face fines of up to 100,000 baht ($3,010).

The order specifically prohibits the use of the banned lotions inside marine parks, so tourists will be given the option of leaving them at the entrance to collect later, the director-general of national marine parks, Jaturathep Kowinthawong, told EFE on Thursday.

The official, who is in charge of the conservation of the parks, urged tourists to cooperate and refrain from using banned sunscreens before visiting the protected beaches.

This measure is similar to one implemented in the small island nation of Palau, in Micronesia, as well as the American state of Hawaii.

Before closing its international borders in March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Thailand had expected to reach 40 million tourists a year.

The profitability of the country’s tourism sector has often come at the cost of the environment.

In 2018, the Thai authorities decided to indefinitely close Maya Bay, made famous as the setting for the 2000 film The Beach, after detecting severe damage to the surrounding coral reefs. EFE


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