AUGUSTA — A bill defining intentional releases of more than 15 balloons as an act of littering is now law, according to a news release.
LD 1023, sponsored by Rep. Genevieve McDonald, D-Stonington, addresses an issue that fishermen have wrestled with under the radar for years.
“Discarded balloons are one of the most common and harmful types of plastic that we see on the water,” said McDonald, a commercial fisherman. “With this new law, more people will realize they shouldn’t be littering, damaging ocean life and negatively affecting fishermen’s livelihoods.”
Data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shows that land-based animals, sea-based animals and animals that fly are all equally likely to mistake a balloon for food, and then either eat it, choke on it or get fatally tangled in the attached string or ribbon.
Balloons don’t break down over time, are not digestible and are the number one killer of seabirds, the release noted.
McDonald’s measure will go into effect 90 days after the Legislature adjourns.
McDonald, House chair of the Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee and a member of the Marine Resources Committee, is serving her second term in the Maine House and represents the Cranberry Isles, Deer Isle, Frenchboro, Isle au Haut, North Haven, Southwest Harbor, Stonington, Swan’s Island, Tremont, Vinalhaven and Marshall Island Township.