SEATTLE – Three pesticides used on agricultural crops jeopardize the survival of many Pacific salmon and steelhead listed as threatened or endangered in the West, federal biologists said Tuesday.
The National Marine Fisheries Service is recommending labeling restrictions, buffer zones near salmon waters for ground and aerial spraying, and a ban on the pesticides’ use in windy conditions and during storms that wash them into the waters.
The pesticides – carbaryl, carbofuran and methomyl – can kill fish outright in certain concentrations and impair the ability of fish to smell, swim, avoid predators and grow.
But the biggest effect is the harm to aquatic insects that salmon rely on for food, said Angela Somma, who heads the service’s endangered species division.
“These pesticides are designed to kill insects on agricultural crops,” she said. “But when they get into the water system, they also kill aquatic insects that salmon feed on.”
The fisheries service found that products containing the pesticides carbaryl and carbofuran jeopardize the survival of 22 listed Pacific salmon and steelhead species. The agency sent its findings to the federal Environmental Protection Agency, which has a year to implement new guidelines. The restrictions would apply to pesticide use in Oregon, Idaho, California and Washington.
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