MIAMI – A 26-year-old woman and 29-year-old man are facing charges for disposing of balloons in Biscayne Bay after they were used to decorate a yacht during a marriage proposal.
A witness shared a video on Instagram and environmentalists were outraged. Sea creatures often confuse the non-biodegradable balloons with jellyfish. Turtles eat it. Seabirds use it to feed their young.
Miami-Dade police officers also issued civil subpoenas with fines of more than $23,000 for illegal dumping at Bayshore Landing Marina in Coconut Grove. This was a more painful learning experience for Martina Gaspoz and David Torres-Bocanegra, who both worked.
Officials arrested Gaspoz on Friday and Torres-Bocanegra on Wednesday. They face charges of willful disregard for the environment, a third-degree felony punishable by a fine of up to $50,000 or imprisonment for up to 5 years, or both. Her bail was $5,000.
Officials arrested Torres-Bocanegra for reckless disregard for the environment, a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 or 60 days in prison, or both. His bail was $500. Detective Angel Rodriguez later clarified that there was an error in the prosecution.
Investigators didn’t think the couple, who got engaged on Tuesday, were to blame. Instead, officials issued subpoenas to the two companies — the event planner and the yacht charter — that the groom-to-be employed.
Additionally, not everyone who received a $2,510 mention actually touched the balloons or were present at the celebration.
The charter yacht is owned by Dessideria D’Caro De Capriles from Doral. Gabriela Castillo was the event coordinator. Francisco Feo was responsible for the charter company. Officials also cited Tulio Capriles, Iulia Tyshchenko, Viacheslav Diadiura and Efrain Hernandez.
Environmentalists want Miami-Dade officials to do more.
The Florida Ocean CleanUp Society, a non-profit organization, has started a petition on Change.org calling on Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, the Chief Bay Officer and Commissioners to pass a new ordinance banning balloons and to enact confetti in coastal waters.
“Banning balloons and confetti will not solve the environmental problem. However, we believe it is important and necessary to spark cultural change,” the petitioner wrote, adding, “We are asking Miami-Dade County to pass legislation to protect our ecosystem and increase environmental awareness among boaters and the charter industry.”
For more stories about protecting Biscayne Bay, visit the Don’t Trash Our Treasure page. Local 10 News environmental advocate Louis Aguirre is leading the team.
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Do not destroy our treasure: 6 p.m., May 11
night report: 11 p.m., May 11
afternoon report: 4 p.m., May 11
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