It’s a never-ending
source of irritation that the groups and agencies that work to protect salmon
just about always focus on issues arising from activities in rural areas, such
as pesticides, onsite septic systems, farming practices, and so forth as being
harmful to salmon, yet virtually never want to point a finger at some of the
more likely urban-centric challenges to the health of salmon and other aquatic
biopharmaceutical and household chemical residuals through high-level tertiary
treatment is one of those issues, there is proven technology that will do the
necessary treatment, albeit at a cost. How about municipalities get as
much focus on being required to contribute to the solutions as our farmers do?
Published: Thursday, August 14, 2008
3 common pesticides hurt salmon, feds say
GRANTS PASS, Ore. --
Three pesticides commonly used on farms and orchards throughout the West are
jeopardizing the survival of Pacific salmon, the federal agency in charge of
saving the fish from extinction has found.
Under the settlement of a lawsuit brought by anti-pesticide groups and salmon fishermen, NOAA Fisheries has issued a draft biological opinion that found the way chlorpyrifos, diazinon and malathion are being used, they get into streams at levels high enough to kill salmon protected by the Endangered Species Act.
The chemicals interfere with salmon's sense of smell, making it harder for them to avoid predators, find food, and even find their spawning streams. Banned from many household uses, tens of millions of pounds of the chemicals are still used throughout the range of Pacific salmon on a wide range of fruits, vegetables, forage crops, cotton, fence posts and livestock to control mosquitoes, flies, termites, boll weevils and other pests, according to NOAA Fisheries.
Jim Lecky, head of the office of protected resources for NOAA Fisheries Service, said from Silver Spring, Md., that they have until the court-imposed deadline of Oct. 31 to work with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to find new ways to safely use the chemicals.
Lecky would not speculate whether the pesticides might ultimately be banned, but acknowledged that scientists have found that even with careful use under current guidelines, the chemicals are finding their way into streams at levels harmful to salmon.
The chemicals are the first of 37 that NOAA Fisheries and EPA must evaluate by 2012 under terms of a settlement reached last week in a lawsuit brought by Northwest Coalition Against Pesticides and the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, which represents California commercial salmon fishermen.
Joshua Osborne-Klein, a lawyer for the public interest law firm Earthjustice, noted that the NOAA Fisheries findings were much stronger than EPA's findings the chemicals were likely to cause harm to fish.
That points out the problems with new Endangered Species Act regulations proposed by the Bush administration that would allow federal agencies to evaluate in-house the potential harm caused by their actions on protected fish and wildlife, rather than having to go to experts at NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, he said.
Lecky said he thought the outcome would have ultimately been the same, because EPA had found the pesticides likely would cause harm.
A total of 28 species of Pacific salmon are classified as threatened or endangered from overfishing, dams, logging, grazing, urban development, pollution, irrigation, misguided hatchery practices and other threats. Lecky said he could not say where pesticides rank in the threats to salmon, but eliminating the harm from pesticides would boost efforts to save them.