Tag Archives: Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides

Think of salmon when you pick your poison

It’s been a long time coming, but the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides is on the verge of getting the federal government to change its policies with respect to three insecticides that can harm salmon. They are diazinon, chlorpyrifos and malathion, all neurotoxins affecting the central nervous system.

As I described in a story in Sunday’s Kitsap Sun, the National Marine Fisheries Service has issued a finding of “jeopardy” under the Endangered Species Act. That means the chemicals pose a risk of extinction for the salmon. Scientists are now considering findings for other pesticides.

Concerns about 54 pesticides were officially raised in 2000, about the time NMFS was spelling out the environmental risks — including pesticides — to more than two dozen threatened and endangered salmon.

In 2002, a federal judge ruled the Environmental Protection Agency must “consult” with NMFS on those pesticides, as required by the Endangered Species Act. Eventually, EPA found that 37 pesticides could create problems for salmon.

The other side of the consultation — a response from NMFS — was not ensured until the end of July, when the agency signed a settlement agreement with NCAP, Earthjustice and the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations. That agreement lays out a schedule for completing “biological opinions” under the ESA.

The draft biological opinion (PDF 11 mb) is available at NMFS’ Office of Protected Resources Web site.

“The fact that it has taken eight years to get here has left me aware that we need to continue to watchdog the process,” Aimee Code, water quality coordinator for NCAP, told me today in a phone conversation.

“I am thrilled we have gotten this far, but I am very aware that we cannot let down our guard,” she said. “It is hard for me to know that our government has been so irresponsible, allowing the marketing and sale of products they knew were of concern. They let people get comfortable using them (the pesticides) … without looking at the risks.”

An so the story continues.