ENVIRONMENTAL groups across the Mornington Peninsula are applauding the state government’s ban on releasing helium balloons into the environment.
Environment Protection Authority laws introduced last week make it illegal to deliberately release balloons in Victoria, with a fine of almost $1000 for those caught doing so.
The laws have been put in place to help protect wildlife and prevent environmental damage.
Zoos Victoria conservation campaigner Darcie Carruthers said the balloons “popped eventually and often landed in waterways where they’re eaten by fish or other wildlife”.
He said released helium balloons come back to earth as litter and threaten wildlife. “Turtles, shearwaters, albatross, platypus as well as farm animals are known to die from mistaking balloons as food, becoming entangled in the ribbons which prevents movement, flight and feeding, or choking on the plastic clips.”
Mornington Environment Association president Margaret Howden is keen for the message that releasing balloons is now illegal to “get out to everyone”.
“Balloon debris is constantly being collected on the foreshore by our members,” she said.
“Our main concern is for the damage and death caused to seabirds and other marine creatures by balloons.
“We applaud the EPA for this law which sees individuals fined $991 and companies $4956 for releasing balloons.
“It is a win for our wildlife.”
The new laws are the culmination of a long-running campaign by environmentalists which even include asking companies to remove images of helium balloon releases, including memes, such as “congratulations”, as they “promote and normalise the environmentally damaging practice which is illegal in many jurisdictions globally”.
Waste Wise Mornington Peninsula posted on Southern Peninsula Noticeboard that it is “now illegal to deliberately release balloons in Victoria”.
It praised Zoos Victoria and No Balloon Release Australia who “tirelessly campaigned for years on this. It’s a massive win and great collaboration”.
Phillip Island Nature Parks said the balloon ban was “good news for seabirds!”
“Releasing balloons into the environment is now considered to be littering and is therefore illegal in Victoria,” it said.
“This is particularly good news for seabirds as balloons are the deadliest form of litter when swallowed. (CSIRO 2019).
“We would like to say a heartfelt thanks to … the 230,000 community members who have helped us bring attention to this important issue and have been a voice for wildlife.”