Three Insecticides Jeopardize Future Survival of Salmon and Southern Resident Orca


Once again, top federal scientists have confirmed that certain pesticides jeopardize the continued existence of most of the Pacific salmon and steelhead species in Oregon, Washington and California.

The Biological Opinion by National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) analyzed the lawfully registered uses of chlorpyrifos (Lorsban), malathion (Fyfanon), and diazinon (Patriot) on all listed salmon, steelhead and other U.S. threatened and endangered marine and anadromous species. The report, known as a Biop, includes detailed recommendations for new restrictions on these three insecticides, widely used in the Northwest and California.

NCAP received the Biop only after fighting in court with our allies (Earthjustice, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations and Institute for Fisheries Resources) to get it released by December 31, 2017, as per a previous settlement agreement with NMFS. The Trump administration had sought two additional years to release the report after receiving a request by Dow Chemical and other industry representatives in April 2017 to delay the report’s release and back off from pesticide analyses focused on endangered species. We are pleased that the report's release was not delayed.

All federal agencies are required to comply with the Endangered Species Acts. This means that EPA now needs to take this Biological Opinion into account in its decisions about how these pesticides can be used.

NMFS recommended mitigations to avoid jeopardy allow EPA to choose between three options:

  1. Terminate use of these pesticides for all high risk uses;
  2. Allow high risk use, but only with large no-spray buffers and and filter strips;
  3. Require pesticide end users to reduce drift, runoff and drainage. Applicators would track use of known risk reduction measures to attain points.

This set of mitigations is more varied and potentially more acceptable to farm groups than mitigations included in previous Biological Opinions.

Until the EPA acts, applicators must refrain from applying these pesticides along salmon waterways in Oregon, Washington, and California, observing a 60-foot no-spray zone for ground applications and a 300-foot no spray zone for aerial applications.

Federal government inaction puts at risk billions of dollars and thousands of jobs. As recently as the late 1980s, salmon and steelhead fishing in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Northern California brought in $1.25 billion to the regional economy and supported more than 62,000 family wage jobs, according to independent economic studies.

NCAP needs your support to continue fighting for Pacific salmon

We’ve successfully pressed the government to analyze the effects of 54 pesticides on endangered salmon, but anticipate that the EPA will not be eager to put the NMFS recommendations into place. Your donations enable us to continue to push the government, mobilize our supporters and save our salmon for future generations.

Read the Biop:

For more about the Biop, see these news articles:

Government Scientists Say A Controversial Pesticide Is Killing Endangered Salmon

Report: Pesticides Imperil Salmon

Trump Administration Could be Sued over Pesticide Threat to Orca and Salmon

For more about pesticide consultations, see:

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