Today, Delaware Gov. John Carney signed legislation banning intentional balloon releases statewide, making Delaware the sixth state to do so this year. Senate Bill 24, which passed with bipartisan support in both chambers of the state legislature, enforces a fine for intentionally releasing five or more balloons filled with air or lighter-than-air gases anywhere within the state of Delaware. Maryland and Virginia also passed legislation to ban intentional balloon releases this year; now that Delaware has enacted its bill, it is illegal to intentionally release balloons throughout the region.
“By banning balloon releases, Delaware lawmakers are taking an important step in protecting one of our greatest resources: the ocean. Their action ensures intentional balloon releases will now be prevented in the entire Delmarva region, as the state joins Maryland and Virginia in enacting statewide bans this year,” said Oceana's field campaigns manager, Caroline Wood. “Balloons have long polluted shorelines of Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia, adding to the plastic pollution that threatens both marine life and the roughly 225,000 jobs in the three states that depend on a clean coast. Oceana applauds Gov. Carney and Delaware state legislators for prohibiting intentional balloon releases, and we also urge these leaders to keep working to curb the growing plastics crisis. We need more policies regulating single-use plastic so we can help reverse course and break the plastic habit."
Scientists estimate that 33 billion pounds of plastic wash into the ocean every year. That equates to about two garbage trucks’ worth of plastic entering the ocean every minute. Just this past November, Oceana found evidence of nearly 1,800 marine mammals and sea turtles swallowing or become entangled in plastic in U.S. waters between 2009 and early 2020 — 88% of those animals were from species listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
Plastic has been found in every corner of the world and has turned up in drinking water, beer, salt, honey and more. Recycling alone will not solve this problem — only 9% of the plastic waste ever generated has been recycled, and companies continue to push new plastic products onto the market. With plastic production growing at a rapid rate, increasing amounts of plastic can be expected to flood our blue planet with devastating consequences.
For more information about Oceana’s campaign to end the plastics problem, please visit usa.oceana.org/plastics.
Oceana is the largest international advocacy organization dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Oceana is rebuilding abundant and biodiverse oceans by winning science-based policies in countries that control one-third of the world’s wild fish catch. With more than 225 victories that stop overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution, and the killing of threatened species like turtles and sharks, Oceana’s campaigns are delivering results. A restored ocean means that 1 billion people can enjoy a healthy seafood meal, every day, forever. Together, we can save the oceans and help feed the world. Visit www.USA.Oceana.org to learn more