On June 4, after a two year dispute between the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and a coalition of conservation organizations and fishing groups, an agreement was finally reached to set reasonable no-spray buffer zones to protect salmon from five harmful insecticides: diazinon, chlorpyrifos, malathion, carbaryl, and methomyl.
These buffer zones protect salmon habitat by stopping aerial spraying of pesticides within 300 feet, and ground based spraying within 60 feet of salmon supporting waters. According to the agreement, it also provides detailed notifications to state regulators, pesticide applicators, farmers and the public about the mandatory no-spray buffer zones. These stipulations will remain in place until the National Marine Fisheries Service has completed their analysis of the impacts of those five pesticides. Then, once the analysis is completed, EPA will execute permanent protections based on their findings.
EPA is required by law under the Endangered Species Act to protect what little salmon are left on the Pacific Coast. Salmon are a critical indicator of how well we are maintaining both marine and terrestrial ecosystems, because their habitats are in streams, lakes, rivers, estuaries and the ocean. The fish are extremely sensitive to changes in water quality, and changes to the river flow. The more salmon there are the more diverse and productive a freshwater ecosystem can be. Salmon runs are also important because they provide a wealth of marine nutrients upstream to waters that are otherwise low in productivity. Declines in salmon can lead to drastic effects up the food chain because they are the main food source for numerous animals.