Web Date: November 7, 2007
Environmental activists and commercial fishermen are asking a federal court in Washington state to force the Bush Administration to restrict the application of agricultural pesticides near rivers and streams in the Pacific Northwest and California because they may harm salmon and other fish, including steelhead trout.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle, charges that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has failed to take any steps to protect the fish from 54 pesticides found in West Coast streams. In 2002, the court ordered NMFS to consult with EPA and to develop a better strategy for protecting salmon and steelhead. The suit says EPA has provided information regarding the effects of the pesticides, but NMFS "has failed to identify a single measure" needed to protect the fish.
The Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides, a coplaintiff, says scientists have determined that the pesticides cause abnormal sexual development, impair swimming ability, and reduce growth rates. "The evidence of harm to salmon from pesticides is overwhelming," says Aimee Code, water-quality coordinator for the coalition. "It is irresponsible for wildlife agencies to ignore that evidence and allow business as usual to continue while salmon and steelhead populations continue to slip toward extinction."
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