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New anti-shrimp pesticide permit granted to oyster growers

Imidacloprid pesticide. (Photo: Stock File)

Click on the flag for more information about United StatesUNITED STATES
Thursday, April 23, 2015, 03:30 (GMT + 9)
Shellfish growers from Washington state have been granted a permit for use of a common household pesticide to combat a growing population of burrowing shrimp in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor.
This pesticide called imidacloprid has been selected by the Department of Ecology after analyzing its environmental impacts at the request of Willapa–Grays Harbor Oyster Growers Association and it decided it is a less-toxic alternative.
“We worked with shellfish growers and other stakeholders to find an effective method to control burrowing shrimp, and identified safeguards that will reduce and minimize the environmental impact of pesticide use,” pointed out Rich Doenges, water quality section manager for Ecology’s Southwest region.
The association, which is required to submit an annual operations plan for approval before any use of the pesticide, explained this control method is necessary for this native species that burrow into shellfish beds, making them too soft for farming.
The Department informed that the permit allows growers to use the pesticide on up to 1,500 acres of commercial tidelands in Willapa Bay and 500 acres in Grays Harbor, and directs that it be applied no more than once a year and only in low-wind conditions to minimize impact to other species.
The Department personnel will monitor applications, and the growers are required to conduct intensive water and sediment monitoring throughout the five-year term of the permit through a partnership with the Washington State University Long Beach extension research facility.
According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the shellfish industry is huge in the Pacific Northwest, injecting an estimated USD 270 million or more into the region’s economy and supplying thousands of people with jobs.
“The shellfish industry is a key economic contributor in Washington’s coastal areas and, by issuing this permit, we can help protect the economic vitality of these family businesses for years to come,” said Sally Toteff, director for Ecology’s Southwest Region.
However, some Willapa Bay residents believe that concern for the industry is pushing aside concern for the people who live there, claiming that it is difficult to perform “an aerial spray and respect the 100-foot buffer that is mentioned in the permit.”
Besides, a review of the permit by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2013 outlined possible risks for aquatic organisms, plants and land and water animals.
“There are a number of uncertainties related to the proposed use of Imidacloprid on oyster beds in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor,” that review concluded.
The EPA cited lack of studies to show long-term effects on some organisms as well as uncertainty on modeling approaches and other concerns due to an initial lack of data.

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