Politicians should be first in line to fight for reefs

Something spectacular occurred Nov. 13 on Maui. A Maui County Council committee recommended the approval of a bill to eliminate oxybenzone and octinoxate sunscreen chemicals from county islands. The committee and those who testified deserve a big mahalo. This is an incredible act of kindness toward Hawaii’s reefs.

Oxybenzone and similar chemicals in low dosage intensify coral bleaching, lowering the sea temperature required for coral suffocation, disrupting endocrine systems of fish, stifling reproduction. Toxic levels already exist in many of Maui’s reefs. Scientific evidence was presented in the meeting. Oxybenzone not only causes damage from swimming, but also by shower and waste system discharges coating Hawaiian reefs.

Sunscreen manufacturers and others offer substitutes currently on store shelves. No lost revenue; only a different product mix. Zinc and titanium oxide. Organics. People could shop without concern.

Smart sunblock companies should support this bill, then promote that they did the right thing rather than respond with a legal fight. Yet a legal battle is likely. Worldwide, countries have banned these chemicals by their reefs. Maui County would be the first entity in the U.S. Never give up when something is so right.

Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa has not yet committed support, mentioning legal ramifications. Yet with abundant evidence and visible desecration, why not fight for Hawaii’s reefs? Politicians should be the first in line. People pressure is needed. Please call or write the mayor with your support.

Kelli Lundgren