McKelvey Urges Study of Coral Reefs at Nāpili Bay

January 20, 2017, 4:06 PM HST · Updated January 20, 4:06 PM
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Nāpili Bay. (1.12.17) PC: State of Hawaiʻi Department of Health.

State Representative Angus McKelvey of Maui reinforced his commitment to protecting Hawaiʻi’s coral reefs by endorsing the Nāpili Bay and Beach Foundation’s upcoming study on strategies to manage oxybenzone pollution.

Oxybenzone is a chemical found in many sunscreens, and presents a serious threat to coastal coral reefs.

Rep. McKelvey said coral reefs are not just ecologically important; they are also highly valued by the tourism industry and residential communities.  “Evaluating the feasibility and effectiveness of community-based management strategies is therefore important to a variety of stakeholders,” he said.

“I am especially happy that the Nāpili Bay foundation has been selected to conduct this study. This shows that businesses, community groups, and others share in the concern for our coral reefs,” said McKelvey.

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“Currently, no reliable data regarding oxybenzone-pollution management strategies exists. Thanks to the Nāpili Bay and Beach Foundation’s proactive efforts, this critical information will be available to make informed decisions about protecting not only Nāpili Bay’s coral reefs, but also elsewhere across the globe.”

The study will determine the effectiveness of a multi-pronged public relations campaign to promote alternatives to using sunscreens that contain oxybenzone. It will encompass an environmental and demographic assessment pre- and post-campaign launch. Toxicity assays will be measured against two control sites, where no campaign will occur.

“As one who burns early and often, and is a skin cancer survivor, I know how important it is to protect yourself from the sun,” McKelvey said, “but there are many products that, along with sensible sun habits, can protect your skin and our reefs.”

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