Balloon releases in Atlantic Beach will cost violators up to $1,250 under ordinance

Atlantic Beach commissioners voted to approve ordinance on Monday evening

News4Jax reporter, Zac Lashway, joins us to explain the motivation behind the Atlantic Beach City commissioner's proposal for an ordinance to crack down on balloon releases.

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – Atlantic Beach commissioners on Monday night voted to approve an ordinance that will add additional fines to people who are cited for balloon releases.

Under the measure, violators could be on the hook for up to $1,250 with fines due to the state and city.

Florida law from 1989 states it’s illegal for any person, firm or corporation to intentionally release or organize the release within 24 hours of 10 or more balloons. There are exceptions such as by the government, scientific or meteorological purposes; hot air balloons; or balloons that are biodegradable.

Any person who violates the law will have to pay a $250 fine. For violators caught in Atlantic Beach, they will also be on the hook for $250 per balloon, up to a maximum of $1,000 due to the city.

Supporters of the ban say the balloons can kill animals and cause pollution. Researchers report collecting balloons 7 nautical miles offshore of Fernandina Beach in February. According to researchers, balloons are a common type of marine debris that can be mistaken for food by sea turtles and birds, and if eaten, can lead to internal injury, starvation or death.

Some people say the infractions would be difficult to enforce and suggested that organizations like Beaches Go Green help educate the public.

Atlantic Beach city commissioners first introduced the proposed ordinance in January, using Fernandina Beach as an example. Last year, Fernandina Beach passed a similar ordinance banning the intentional release of helium balloons.

Neptune and Jacksonville beaches are also said to be considering banning balloon and lantern releases.