Big success story for endangered fish!
On October 31, a federal judge upheld measures required to protect endangered salmon and steelhead from three highly toxic pesticides. The protections were included in a biological opinion issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) in 2008, but unsurprisingly the manufacturers of those pesticides had challenged NMFS’s findings, in an attempt to overturn these protections.
Pesticide Industry’s Attempts To Foil This Ruling Failed
Fortunately, the pesticide industry lost.
Last week, I wrote here about the growing fear that infectious salmon anemia had been found in two wild sockeye smolts collected on the central British Columbia coast. How the anemia might have got there is under discussion, but in the case decided on Monday, it is clear that the pesticide industry is to blame.
The current case actually began with a lawsuit filed by conservation and fishing groups represented by Earthjustice in 2001. In response to that litigation, the fishery experts at NMFS evaluated the pesticides and determined that no-spray buffer zones next to streams and vegetated strips to catch pesticide-laden runoff from fields were needed to protect salmon.
EPA Needs To Take Responsibility
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was supposed to begin regulating those pesticides in 2008, but has yet to act. Earthjustice, representing Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, and Defenders of Wildlife, intervened in the case to defend these important safeguards for west coast salmon and the fisheries jobs they support.
Hooray For Earthjustice And Defenders Of Wildlife!
From the Defenders of Wildlife press release:
“The best available science shows that these toxic pesticides pose a major threat to Pacific coast salmon,” said Steve Mashuda, an attorney with Earthjustice representing the groups. “Today’s ruling is yet another reason why the government must move quickly to ensure that pesticides are removed from Northwest salmon waters.
These pesticides harm salmon in a number of ways, including killing them directly, affecting their food supply and habitat, and interfering with their ability to navigate back to their home streams to spawn. In addition to poisoning salmon, the class of organophosphate pesticides have been linked with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and childhood developmental delays.”
So this is a big win for everyone, and the pesticide industry’s attempt to get around the law has been foiled. Now we need the EPA to get going on the enforcement of this ruling.
Photo Credit: Canadian Dragon