Pacific Northwest must address effects, if any, of pesticide on salmon

-- Seattle Post-Intelligencer Feb. 13

Posted: Thursday, February 15, 2001

A lawsuit filed against the Environmental Protection Agency over its alleged failure to address the impacts of pesticide on salmon may open a difficult new chapter in the effort to save the fish.

Recent studies by the National Marine Fisheries Service and British scientists suggest that minute quantities of pesticides in water may impair the fishes' ability to smell -- and thus interfere with their ability to find their way home to spawn.

As NMFS research zoologist Nat Scholz put it: ''The fish need their noses.''

The suit by the Washington Toxics Coalition, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations and other groups claims that EPA has failed in its legal duty to consult with NMFS when establishing pesticide guidelines and has failed to consider pesticide effects on fish.

If those allegations prove true, the court is obliged to force EPA to follow the law -- if it hasn't been doing so. And if the science shows that small amounts of pesticide have subtle but lethal effects on fish, that likely would mean far-reaching impacts on agriculture, business, industry, governments and homeowners all across the state.

... It's imperative that definitive answers be found quickly. A region that's spent $3.5 billion trying to save fish from dams and poor habitat can ill afford to have that effort undone by pesticides. ...

-- Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Feb. 13

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