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NMFS’ Draft BiOp Says 3 Pesticides Likely Jeopardize Salmon, Proposes Measures To Reduce Exposure
Posted on Friday, April 13, 2012 (PST)

The Environmental Protection Agency is seeking comments by April 30 on measures proposed by the National Marine Fisheries Service to protect threatened and endangered pacific salmon from potential effects from three pesticides -- oryzalin, pendimethalin, and trifluralin.


The Reasonable and Prudent Measures (RPMs) and Alternatives (RPAs) are part of a draft biological opinion developed by NMFS to assess effects of pesticide products containing the three pesticides on the 28 Pacific salmon and steelhead species listed under the Endangered Species Act, and critical habitat designated for those species.


The EPA received the draft biological opinion from NMFS on March 30, 2012. It is available on EPA’s Endangered Species Protection Program web page at


After considering the status of the listed species and the direct, indirect, and cumulative effects of the pesticides, NMFS determined in the biological opinion that the three pesticides could have an adverse effect on most listed salmonids.  For some listed species, the effects from the pesticide exposure may be extensive enough to rise to the level of jeopardy, while for other listed species the effects may not. 


NMFS concluded in the biological opinion that products containing the three pesticides are likely to jeopardize approximately half of the ESA-listed Pacific salmonid species and adversely modify their designated critical habitat.


For ESA-listed Columbia River salmonids, NMFS determined that pendimethalin and trifluralin are likely to jeopardize Lower Columbia River Chinook, coho and steelhead, Upper Willamette River Chinook and steelhead, and Middle Columbia River steelhead.  Oryzalin is likely to jeopardize Upper Willamette River Chinook and steelhead and Middle Columbia River steelhead.


The RPMs and RPAs identified in the draft biological opinion contain elements that reduce salmonid exposure to the pesticides. NMFS proposed the RPMs and RPAs to remove the likelihood of jeopardy and adverse potential effects from the pesticides on the listed species and their designated critical habitat. 


The EPA is encouraging input from state, tribal and local governments on the draft RPMs and RPAs to determine whether the alternatives or measures can be reasonably implemented, and whether there are different measures that may provide adequate protection but result in less impact on pesticide users.


The EPA invites all interested parties to submit comments on the RPAs and RPMs in this draft biological opinion by April 30, 2012.  EPA will forward all public comments received on the draft biological opinion to NMFS for their consideration.  EPA also plans to provide NMFS comments on the draft opinion. NMFS has a legal deadline to issue the final Biological Opinion by May 31, 2012.


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