We, the undersigned, are calling for a nationwide ban on ceremonial balloon releases due to the environmental impact on marine and wildlife.
All released balloons return to the earth as litter, mostly in fragments, polluting both our land and seas. They, along with their attached ribbons, pose a huge threat to marine and wildlife as they resemble edible items to the animals.
When an animal ingests these fragments they are usually killed from the balloon blocking the digestive tract, leaving them unable to take in any more nutrients resulting in the animal slowly starving to death. Animals can also become entangled in the balloon and/or its ribbon rendering them unable to move or eat and again slowly starving to death.
Sea turtles are especially vulnerable to ingestion as they naturally prey on jellies which balloon fragments can easily be mistaken for. Six of the world's seven species of marine turtle occur in Australian waters three of which are considered to be critically endangered.
But it’s not only sea life that is at risk, many terrestrial species are also falling victim to this threat, on the 14/06/2014, the Australian Platypus Conservancy reported on the death of a platypus which had become entangled in the ribbon of a deflated balloon.
Birds too are extremely susceptible to entanglement as well as many other animals. Penguins and even seals have been documented as being injured or killed by becoming entangled in a balloons ribbon.
Marketers of balloons hide behind the PR spiel that their latex balloons are 100% bio-degradable, comparing it to the degradation of an oak leaf. What they fail to mention is that an oak leaf can take 6 months or more to degrade (some claim as long as 4 years) taking even longer to degrade at sea than on land, whilst animals are searching for their food every moment of every day.
As balloon releases are becoming more and more prevalent in celebrations, memorials and at charity events it is vital now that laws be made to put an end to the deliberate littering of our environment. There are so many other ways to commemorate occasions than something as irresponsible as balloon releases.
Also to consider in this is the Helium being used to inflate balloons.
Helium is a non-renewable source with no chemical substitute. According to Robert Richardson, who won the Nobel Prize in 1996 for his work on superfluidity of Helium, we are using our supplies of Helium at a unimaginable rate and what has taken the earth billions of years to accumulate could be gone within a generation.
Helium is used for, among other things, MRI scanners, fibre optics, sea/space exploration, welding, supersonic wind tunnels, cooling nuclear reactors, life-saving medical procedures and diagnostics, cryogenics, laboratory research, lasers, LCD’s, rare document preservation and breathing ventilators for infants and the ill. Helium is an essential part of our everyday lives.
Now is the time to be following the example of Queensland’s Sunshine Coast council’s Local Law No 3 (Community and Environmental Management) 2011 and start treating balloon releases for what they are, deliberate littering, detrimental to our wildlife, marine life and overall environment.
You hold the power in making a great difference on the impact that this misguided practice has on our environment and its inhabitants.
I do hope for your sincere attention and action in this matter and in keeping Australia beautiful.
Thank you kindly for your time