The import and use of balloons are now prohibited in Seychelles, although shop owners still have stock due to the lack of sales due to restrictions on public gatherings in recent years.
The ban, which took effect on September 1, was initially expected to come into force on June 1 but was then applied only to the importation of balloons.
The director-general of Waste Enforcement and Permit in the Ministry of Environment, Nanette Laure, had in an interview said that “since the country went into restriction measures due to COVID-19, merchants have been claiming that their sales have gone down because of few gatherings. Therefore, we brought this concern forward for us to get at the decision.”
But balloon sellers claim nothing has changed because of the no grouping COVID-19 restrictions in place which stopped people from hosting parties needing a large number of balloons, adding that they have no choice but to destroy the balloons.
But Laure said that the environment ministry is aware of the complaints, however, the government is not going to reconsider the decision to implement the ban on the importation, sale and use of balloons.
He said, “Any forms of plastic, biodegradable, rubber balloons and those with toys will not be allowed in the country. However, balloons used for meteorological purposes are exempted from the ban.
“A person who fails to comply will be faced with a fixed penalty of SCR500 ($32) and if it is not paid the person will be liable to legal action including a fine not exceeding more than SCR20,000 ($1,285).”
While announcing the ban on balloons last November, President Wavel Ramkalawan had said that they were frequently used at beaches, left behind and washed away, ending up in the ocean, where they “have a destructive impact on marine life.”
The island nation, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, has in the last few years imposed bans on several plastic items in a bid to further protect its environment.
There has been a ban on plastic bags, plastic utensils including cups, forks, Styrofoam takeaway boxes and plates since 2017. This was followed by a ban on single-use plastic straws in June 2019.
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