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Cancellation Of Charity Balloon Release Welcomed

category national | environment | press release author Tuesday September 06, 2016 21:04author by foie - Friends of the Irish Environment - Press Release 6th Sept 2016 Report this post to the editors

The cancellation of a planned balloon releases this Sunday by the Cork Autism Society has been welcomed by the environmental lobby group Friends of the Irish Environment. Balloons released into the environment will burst and the fragments can become lethal 'marine debris', a hazard for sea turtles, dolphins, whales, fish, and seabirds who mistake them for jellyfish or other natural prey.

Marian Courtney, the Sales & Marketing Manager, has written to the group saying that the balloons, which are tied to participant’s wrist during the walk, ‘will not be released this year but will instead be taken home by the participants’.

‘We are delighted with the prompt response from the Society’, said FIE Director Tony Lowes.

The group has protested balloon launches before. The balloon release planned for the January 2013 opening of the Irish EU Presidency was re-arranged at the last minute after FIE’s protest to include a ‘Secure Balloon Release’, and not a ‘general balloon release.’

Mr. Lowes stressed that their organisation meant no disrespect for the Cork charity or ‘the many hard working volunteers who are planning this event. Nor are we seeking to have balloons banned, but rather to join other jurisdictions in having balloons included in the legal definition of litter and making outdoor releases illegal’.

ENDS

Comment and verification:
Tony Lowes 027 74771 / 087 217 6316

Request letter
http://www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/13-papers-t...lease

UK Marine Conservation Society Pollution Policy and Position Statement, 2014
http://www.mcsuk.org/downloads/pollution/beachwatch/MCS...y.pdf

Birdwatch Ireland (and others) July 2012 call for Ban
http://www.birdwatchireland.ie/LinkClick.aspx?fileticke...=1283

See video of last year’s ‘Blue Balloon and Fun Walk’ Balloon Release
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDe5cuWTKbg
at 2.22

=======================================================================
This announcement comes in response to the following earlier press release in the week
========================================================================
5 September, 2016 - PRESS RELEASE

FRIENDS OF THE IRISH ENVIRONMENT

CALL FOR CANCELLATION OF CHARITY BALLOON RELEASE

The environmental lobby group Friends of the Irish Environment [FIE] are calling on the Cork Association for Autism to amend their planned balloon release this Sunday and ‘keep it on a string’. The Association’s annual ‘Blue Balloon and Fun Walk’ is scheduled for Sunday 11th at 11 am at Blackrock, Cork.

FIE said the practice of releasing balloons was ‘an act of littering’ that only continued because people were unaware of the consequences. ‘If the public knew how hazardous balloons are to the environment they would never allow it’, FIE Director Tony Lowes said.

‘It has been well established since a Canadian marine conference in 1989 that the release of gas filled balloons is an environmental hazard. The fragments can become lethal 'marine debris', a hazard for sea turtles, dolphins, whales, fish, and seabirds who mistake them for jellyfish or other natural prey.’

‘All of these species have been reported with balloons in their stomachs. All seven species of marine turtles are near extinction and many turtles of two species in particular, the Loggerhead and Leatherback turtle, have been found with balloons in their intestines. The string on balloons can also entangle and trap animals. Not only can entanglement cause death, but added to other plastic fragments, animals can feel full and actually starve to death from not eating. Latex balloons, whilst biodegradable, may still persist in the marine environment for up to four years’, he added.

The group has protested balloon launches before. The balloon release planned for the January 2013 opening of the Irish EU Presidency was re-arranged at the last minute after FIE’s protest to include a ‘Secure Balloon Release’, and not a ‘general balloon release.’

‘All of the balloons for the ceremony’, Tony Lowes explained, ‘had extra-long string attached. The balloons were then released from chest height and let go to the maximum of the string length for the launch itself. After the EU ceremony, children were able to take the balloons home with them as a memento of the day.’

FIE first tried to prevent President Mary McAleese partaking in a memorial balloon release in 2005. At the time Environment Minister Dick Roche refused to prohibit mass balloon releases. In 2009 the prestigious Dublin’s Mount Anville school cancelled a planned balloon release after FIE issued a public call. In July 2012 Birdwatch Ireland and three other wildlife and marine groups issued a call to Ban Balloon Releases.

FIE wrote to President Higgins after his election to the Presidency, asking him to ensure that he did not attend ceremonies which included the release of balloons. His office informed them that he ‘cannot intervene in or make representations about matters which come within the remit of the Government.’

Mr. Lowes stressed that their organisation meant no disrespect for the Charity or the many hard working volunteers who were planning this event. ‘Nor are we seeking to have balloons banned, but rather to join cities in the United States and many English counties in having balloons included in the legal definition of litter and making outdoor releases illegal’.

‘What is key is to ensure that people know of the damage they could unwittingly be causing. Local Authorities could adopt voluntary bans on their own lands as could the Parks and Wildlife Service. This would greatly help to raise awareness – and that’s the key to any change in our behaviour. We don’t believe anyone wants to intentionally cause the needless suffering and death of wildlife or marine animals.’

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