Thursday, April 30, 2015

30/04/2015: Concern over plan to spray new pesticide on Washington, US oyster beds

For years a group of men have worked the tidal flats in Willapa Bay, Washington, USA, manicuring them for oyster growth, the King 5 website reports.

"Four of the guys, including myself that mowed it, we came down with cancer. Lymphoma. Two are dead," said Keith Stavrum with the Moby Dick Hotel, Restaurant and Oyster Farm.

Stavrum blames pesticides used to kill tiny burrowing shrimp - the arch nemesis of oysters because their digging softens oyster beds. 

"And if that ground's too muddy and soft, they sink in, suffocate and die," said Bill Dewey with Taylor Shellfish.
Image: Kent Wang
It's why Dewey says his company needs to use pesticides. The one they used for decades was outlawed for dangerous side effects. So, they've secured a new one: Imidacloprid, now permitted by the Department of Ecology. 

"We are confident that any impact that would occur would be brief and consistent with the Clean Water Act," said Rich Doenges with the Department of Ecology.

Imidacloprid is commonly used in flea medications and farm insecticides, but it's not used commercially in US waters.

The permit allows its use on 2,000 acres in Grays Harbor and Willapa Bay. About 25 percent of US oysters come from these two bays.

Both US Fish & Wildlife and NOAA have raised concerns. NOAA's letter to the Department of Ecology says they're worried about "delayed, lingering, and latent effects."

US Fish & Wildlife asked for a longer trial period because experiments "failed to meaningfully and adequately address a number of outstanding issues." 

EPA signed off on the use for specific purposes because they believe tests have shown that this particular formulation of imidacloprid will not cause residual problems.

"This is insane! This is wrong!" said Fritzi Cohen, who quoted her friends. 

Cohen, proprietor of the Moby Dick Hotel, owns the tidal flats and no longer sells the oysters because of chemicals.

"Because I couldn't look [customers] in the eye and say, 'OK they're great.' I didn't believe they were," said Cohen. 

There are also concerns about bee populations.

Evergreen State College Emeritus Faculty Member Dr. Steven G. Herman raised questions about shore birds.

Read more and see the video HERE.

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