MNMRC Submits Testimony in Support of Maui County Ban on Sunscreen Products with Oxybenzone and Octinoxate

KIHEI, HI — November 30, 2017 — Maui Nui Marine Resource Council has submitted written testimony to the Maui County Council in support of a proposed County law that would ban SPF sunscreen products containing octinoxate and oxybenzone.

The testimony states, “We are strongly in support of passage of Bill 17-179 – ‘Prohibiting the Sale and Use of SPF Sunscreens Containing Oxybenzone and Octinoxate’ because it aligns with our mission of protecting Maui’s coral reefs. Protecting our reefs includes taking all reasonable steps to keep known pollutants out of our coastal waters.”

According to MNMRC’s testimony, Dr. Craig Downs has provided compelling scientific evidence that oxybenzone and octinoxate, ingredients found in many popular sunscreen products, harm and kill corals. This is especially problematic in reef areas that are popular snorkeling locations. The sunscreen used by snorkelers in these areas washes off and pollutes the reef, and damages the coral that is the essential foundation of the reef ecosystem.

The testimony acknowledges the value of Maui’s visitor industry to the local economy, and the importance that visitors place on snorkeling and diving at Maui’s coral reefs. According to MNMRC, passage of Bill 17-179 will protect Maui’s reefs, the visitor industry and the economy.

“We are convinced that visitors will be grateful and impressed that Maui cares about our coral reefs and takes the necessary step of banning sunscreen ingredients that are harmful to our reefs,” states MNMRC in its testimony. “We believe that publicity about this new law will be good for Maui and will build upon Maui’s appeal as a visitor destination.”

Maui Nui Marine Resource Council Board Member Michelle Griffoul has actively worked with snorkel tour operators to help them obtain affordable sunscreens that are free of oxybenzone and octinoxate to dispense on their cruises. “This is a good first step and has been positively received by visitors on these cruises,” notes MNMRC’s testimony. ” The next step is up  to our Maui County Councilmembers to protect Maui’s coral reefs by passing Bill 17-179 and prohibiting the sale and use of SPF sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate.”

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