Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
August 8, 2019 – 9:00 a.m.
On First Reading at their August 6, 2019 Regular Meeting, the Fernandina Beach City Commission unanimously approved Ordinance 2019-19, which bans the intentional release of balloons inflated with a gas that is lighter than air, which includes but is not limited to helium. The only exceptions are for indoor balloon releases or balloons released on behalf of a governmental agency or governmental contract for scientific or meteorological purposes.
Any person who violates or fails to comply with this ordinance will be subject to a $100 fine.
Commissioners suggested this ordinance as a means of protecting wildlife and the environment and halting pollution of the ocean.
Already this year Cumberland Island has reported finding more than 20 mylar balloons that drifted up from Amelia Island.
Commissioner Phil Chapman suggested that the city launch an educational campaign to increase awareness of the problems caused by balloon releases. He called for bringing such a program into the schools. He also asked that local vendors of inflated balloons of this type be contacted in person to make sure that they are aware of the new rules and consequences in order to advise their customers.
A second reading has not yet been scheduled for this ordinance.