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Palau to ban sunscreen as it tries to save its coral reefs

Palau to ban sunscreen as it tries to save its coral reefs

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — In an attempt to protect coral reefs that divers have dubbed the underwater Serengeti, the Pacific nation of Palau will soon ban many types of sunscreen.

President Tommy Remengesau Jr. last week signed legislation that bans "reef-toxic" sunscreen from 2020. Banned sunscreens will be confiscated from tourists who carry them into the country, and merchants selling the banned products will be fined up to $1,000.

Remengesau said in a statement that the penalties find the right balance between "educating tourists and scaring them away."

The law defines reef-toxic sunscreen as containing any one of 10 chemicals, including oxybenzone, and states that other chemicals may also be banned.

The legislation also requires tour operators to start providing customers with reusable cups, straws and food containers.