Salmon

West Coast salmon, an already threatened species, are the victim of a new, potentially detrimental threat according to a recent evaluation conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries Service.

NOAA’s Fisheries Services identified the culprits as three pesticides commonly used in more than 100 pesticide products for home and agricultural applications including the treatment of soy, cotton, corn, grapes and Christmas trees: triflurali, oryzalin and pendimenthalin.

The request for restrictions on the pesticides was submitted as a result of legal action taken by conservation groups and salmon fishers concerned for the health and survival of the species.

According to the NOAA Fisheries report submitted to the EPA, the contamination from the pesticides may be jeopardizing as much as half of the 26 protected West Coast salmon populations already facing survival issues that make them protected by the Endangered Species Act.

In its submission to the EPA, NOAA requested the agency enforce restrictions including no-spray areas that would buffer the fish and help to keep the pesticide run-off from entering streams.

The three most common West Coast salmon species are chinook, coho and sockeye. More than 135 species depend on salmon, according to Salmon Nation. After returning to the place of their birth for spawning, salmon die, leaving their bodies as food for future generations. But the pesticides are creating new challenges for the species, making wild salmon an unsustainable catch for fishers who depend on the species, too. Trifluralin deforms the backbones of the fish, oryzalin poisons plants in the salmon’s environment as does pendimenthalin, which also poisons the food salmon eat.

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Image: RJL20