A proposed plastic drinking-straw ban for Fort Myers Beach will get a second reading and very likely a vote at Thursday evening’s Town Council meeting.

Town leaders on Wednesday morning said the meeting would go on as scheduled, even as the area prepares for the weekend arrival of Hurricane Irma.

It begins at 6:30 p.m. at Town Council chambers, 2525 Estero Blvd., Fort Myers Beach. 

This meeting will be broadcast live on Comcast channel 98.

The drinking straw ordinance is one of several agenda items.

It’s been several months in the making. Proponents say that protecting the Gulf of Mexico and its human and marine life are worth curbing use of plastic straws.

Opponents say it will place undue burden on Beach restaurants and bars — and will not solve the problems other plastic litter poses.

In its latest form, the draft ordinance prohibits the vending, sale, giving, deployment or delivering of thermoplastic straws within town borders.

Exceptions include use of a plastic straw with a beverage on at a private home, at a county public school or with beverage-and-straw combinations that are prepared and packaged outside the town. Think single-serve juice and milk cartons sold in stores.

The draft ordinance would impose penalties ranging from $100 fine for the first offense to $500 for a third offense occurring within a one-year period.

Each and every prohibited distribution would be a single violation.

Dozens of communities along U.S. coastlines are discussing voluntary abstinence – if not outright bans – of single-use plastic drinking straws.

That’s because straws and other plastic litter wind up in waterways, endangering marine wildlife.

A Worldwatch Institute blog noted that straws and stirrers are among the top 10 marine debris found during coastal cleanups.

The environmental concerns reach beyond easily observable dangers, such as sea turtles ingesting straws and other plastic products, which can lead to starvation.

Globally, considerable study is going to microplastics — plastic particles no bigger than 1/5 of an inch.

Some microplastics are small enough to be ingested by animals low in the food chain, such as plankton, according to a University of Florida/IFAS report surveying some of the science findings.

The impact of microplastics on humans? “Not yet understood, leaving many questions unanswered,” according to the UF report writers.

At the first public hearing in mid-August, Beach resident Leon Moyer called the straw ordinance “a well-intentioned idea,” but difficult to enforce, particularly with beach-going visitors who hail from all over the world

“What (the council) will do is put a burden on businesses,” Moyer said.

Moyer thinks the ordinance would bring some small improvement to the environment, adding it doesn’t address bigger threats to water and marine health such as sewage, plastic bag litter and “big ships dumping things at sea.”

Councilwoman Anita Cereceda acknowledged during the town council discussion in mid-August that the ordinance wouldn't be an end to water pollution, but added: “Being a barrier island, we are sensitive to our environment and are trying to protect it.

"This is just one small step we can make.”

Connect with this reporter at LauraPatrickRuane (Facebook) and @Alvascribe (Twitter).

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