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Environment

Pesticides Threat To Pacific Salmon

August 18, 2008 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 86, ISSUE 33

The National Marine Fisheries Service has concluded that three commonly used agricultural pesticides are increasing the chance of extinction for 28 different threatened and endangered salmon stocks. NMFS found “overwhelming evidence” that three pesticides—chlorpyrifos, diazinon, and malathion—interfere with the ability of salmon to swim, find food, reproduce, and escape bigger fish trying to eat them. If the pesticides continue to be used as currently authorized, they are “likely to jeopardize the continued existence” of all threatened and endangered salmon populations, the assessment concludes. NMFS’s draft assessment was issued as part of a legal settlement that requires EPA to consult with federal fish biologists to determine whether salmon and steelhead in the Pacific Northwest are adversely impacted by more than three dozen pesticides. NMFS is required to complete all of the assessments by February 2012. “The government says these poisons are increasing the risk of salmon extinction substantially. We need to find alternatives and act quickly to prevent these chemicals from reaching West Coast rivers and streams,” says Joshua Osborne-Klein, an attorney with Earthjustice, an environmental law firm.

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