02 December 2010 Salmon v. Pesticides: A Losing Battle Posted by: John Motsinger | 1 comment | Share: Pesticides kill. That’s what they’re designed to do. But what they kill is often a contentious matter. The agricultural pests that bug farmers are usually the prime target, but deadly chemicals can end up widely distributed throughout the environment. Along the Pacific Coast, pesticides are commonly washed into rivers where they have been shown to kill sensitive aquatic life. We’re not just talking about the little micro-organisms either. Big fish like salmon and steelhead are susceptible as well, which is why the Defenders legal team is stepping in. Chinook salmon. Photo courtesy of USGS. In 2008, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) determined that several pesticides known as organophosphates were negatively impacting Pacific salmon and steelhead. Three common pesticides in particular (chlorpyrifos, diazinon, and malathion) can kill salmon outright in addition to disrupting spawning migrations, eliminating important prey species, and making the fish more susceptible to disease. These pesticides have been found in every single water basin that was tested on the West Coast, sometimes at concentrations 1000 times higher than acceptable levels established by the government. The NMFS “biological opinion” submitted to the EPA identified several steps to keep these compounds out of rivers where they can cause harm to salmon and steelhead habitat. Recommendations included creating a buffer of non-crop vegetation between salmon streams and farmland, and keeping pesticide applications at a safe distance from those waters. Unfortunately, the federal scientists’ biological opinion was largely ignored. Instead, EPA tried to implement weaker protections, but even those minimal safeguards were rejected by the pesticide industry. Even in the face of expert reports and declining salmon populations, major chemical manufacturers like Dow AgroSciences, Makhteshim-Agan North America and Cheminova continue to claim their products do not jeopardize fisheries. As a result, Defenders and a coalition of conservation and fishing groups are suing EPA to force them to enact the proper safeguards needed to protect imperiled salmon and steelhead fisheries along the Pacific coast. It’s time to stand up to the pesticide producers and polluters who are putting our aquatic ecosystems at risk. Read the full press release here and check out our fact sheet to learn more about threats to salmon nationwide. One Response to “Salmon v. Pesticides: A Losing Battle” Post Your Comment Click here to cancel reply. Name (required) Mail (required) (will not be published) You May also be interested in Wolf Weekly Wrap-Up Helicopter gunning kills 23 wolves in Idaho; Urge Secretary Jewell to abandon gray wolf delisting proposal — Call your representative by March 14; Washington wildlife agency urged to end support for abolishing federal wolf protections; The latest on Governor Otter’s wolf control board. Two Too Many Development Projects in the Ivanpah Valley While these projects most definitely directly impact a species that has been identified as threatened and is dependent on the habitat where they would be built, Silver State South and Stateline’s approval is most troubling for a bigger reason. You see, this isn’t just an issue for the Ivanpah Valley. Developers and agencies need to be conscious of how and where they plan energy projects all across the country. They need to look at renewable energy planning with a landscape-wide lens, understanding that building in the right places and making an effort to minimize environmental impacts from the start are essential. California’s Rim Fire: Opportunities Rise from the Ashes After California’s devastating Rim Fire, will officials take the opportunity to give nature a chance to fully recover?