November 19, 2008

NMFS: EPA registration of pesticides would jeopardize Pacific salmon

By NMFS: EPA registration of pesticides would jeopardize Pacific salmon

The AP reports that NMFS has issued a biological opinion on EPA's proposed registration of the uses of all pesticides containing chlorpyrifos, diazinon, or malathion. The biological opinion (available here) concludes that the registration will likely jeopardize the continued existence of several salmonids and will likely result in the adverse modification of their critical habitat.

Accordingly, as the AP notes, "[f]arms and orchards that continue to use three pesticides that harm salmon will have to greatly expand buffer zones around their fields so the chemicals don't reach streams, federal biologists ruled Tuesday."

The biological opinion is a result of a lawsuit brought by Earthjustice, which issued this press release. In the press release Glen Spain of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations is quoted as saying that "[k]eeping these pesticides out of the water is a major step toward protecting our salmon stocks and revitalizing the fishing industry, which can generate hundreds of million of dollars in the region."

The AP pointed to Washington Friends of Farms & Forests' Heather Hansen for a counter:

Plaintiffs in the case hope the expanded buffers will convince farmers and growers to drop use of the chemicals entirely and turn to alternatives or even organic farming . . . .

That would be a hardship for growers, particularly apple and cherry growers, said Heather Hansen of Washington Friends of Farms and Forests. Without them, apple growers that get coddling moths and cherry growers that get cherry fruit flies could be quarantined and unable to sell their fruit.

She added that organophosphate use has been declining in recent years, with water samples by the state of Washington showing cleaner water.

"The way they are using these products today, nobody has shown evidence of harm to fish," she said. "This is really about paperwork — government agencies not doing paperwork and not communicating well with each other."

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