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NOAA Releases More Pesticide Rules

by Bill Rudolph
NW Fishletter, May 6, 2009

The National Marine Fisheries Service released an April 20 biological opinion on three more pesticides that could hurt ESA-listed West Coast salmon and steelhead. The three--carbaryl, carbuforan and methomyl, are the latest to be scrutinized of 37 pesticides the agency had promised to review over the next three years.

Three others have already been reviewed and regulations drawn up for their use near salmon streams.

The new rules for EPA guidance that will take effect within one year call for no aerial spraying with 600-1000 feet of salmon waters, or ground application within 50 to 600 feet of salmon waters. No aerial applications of the three pesticides will be allowed when wind speeds are 10 mph or higher.

Carbaryl is widely used by Washington oyster farmers to combat a burrowing shrimp that turns beds mushy, causing oysters to sink and die in sediment. They protested when the new rules were announced.

They weren't the only critics of the new rules. EPA took issue with the lack of transparency in the draft BiOp released March 18. In an April 10, 2009 letter to NMFS, EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs said it did not believe the available data supported the draft BiOp's jeopardy conclusions. Ten days later, NMFS issued a final opinion.

Environmental groups, who had initiated litigation years ago, were unhappy that the latest BiOp didn't include 20-foot stream buffers as did the first pesticide BiOp and the draft of this one.

"We're excited by the progress that this decision represents," said Aimee Code, the Water Quality Coordinator for the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides (NCAP), in an April 21 press release. "But we're concerned that NMFS backslid on an essential element needed to protect salmon. The science indicates that healthy vegetation next to rivers and streams filters out pollutants."

Related Pages:
Biological Opinion

Bill Rudolph
NOAA Releases More Pesticide Rules
NW Fishletter, May 6, 2009

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