Wildlife Queensland has welcomed the announcement that Retail First, owner of 20 shopping centres across south-east Queensland, will ban the use of helium balloons, and calls for other retailers to follow suit.
Retail First acted quickly and responsibly when it became aware recently that a balloon marked with its branding was found in the stomach of a dead grey-headed albatross on Fraser Island. The grey-headed albatross is a listed endangered species.
“Many people and organisations release helium balloons at celebrations and events, not realising the threats these balloons cause to wildlife,” said Toby Hutcheon, spokesperson for Wildlife Queensland.
“The fact is that what goes up must come down, and when helium balloons come down, many are eaten by turtles and sea birds or cause these creatures to become entangled in any attached strings.”
Studies on dead sea turtles between 2006 and 2011 in south-east Queensland found that pelagic turtles had a preference for eating rubber items, 78 percent of which is discarded balloons. Dr. Jenn Lavers from the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies says she finds balloons “in about one in every 20 sea birds” she examines.
Wildlife Queensland is calling on all retailers to follow the example of Retail First and ban the use of helium balloons.
Though public comments have now closed, you can read our submission on the plastic bag ban, including a call to include helium balloons, here.
Retail First Shopping Centres include Arndale, Aspley Hypermarket, Brookside, Australia Fair, Logan Central, Stafford City, Sunnybank Plaza, Capalaba, Mt Gravatt Plaza and Toowong Village.
Quest Community News covered the issue, acknowledging Wildlife Queensland’s involvement, on 14 February.