EGG HARBOR CITY— City Council on Thursday, Feb. 22 introduced an addition to its nuisance ordinance banning the mass release of lighter-than-air balloons into the atmosphere.
With the prevailing winds in South Jersey, balloons released in the city float eastward and eventually burst and drop into the Atlantic Ocean where they pose a threat to marine life, SustainableEHC green team Chairwoman Nanette LoBiondo Galloway said.
When the balloons burst and drop into, the ocean, sea creatures such as shore birds and sea turtles, mistake them for jellyfish.
“Ingesting balloons disrupts their digestive systems, causing them to starve to death,” Galloway said. “Additionally, sea mammals often get tangled in the ribbons attached to the balloons, are strangled and suffocate.”
The green team recommended the city join other Atlantic County coastal communities, including Brigantine, Atlantic City, Ventnor, Margate, Longport, in adopting the ordinance.
“It’s important to have a law on the books that informs the public that releasing balloons is unacceptable behavior. We can all do more to protect our environment,” Galloway said.
The ordinance is meant to be educational, not punitive. It simply prevents the mass release of balloons at weddings and special events, she said.
“The city is not going to be hiding behind bushes to catch your child when he or she unintentionally releases a balloon,” she said. “But the effects of mass release of balloons at celebrations and community events is so devastating to marine life that we, as stewards of the earth, should educate others about their effect on the environment.”
A public hearing on the ordinance will be held 7 p.m. Thursday, March 8.
For more information about the ordinance or other green team initiatives, call 609-965-5681 or see sustainableehc.org.