Don’t Spray Neurotoxin in Delicate Estuaries

Oyster_Farming_By_Author Unknown

Target: Washington State Department of Ecology Director Maia Bellon

Goal: Prevent the approval of pesticide application to oyster beds in southwest Washington state.

A group of twelve local oyster farms in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor have applied for a permit that would allow them to apply a neurotoxic pesticide to the areas of beach where they harvest oysters.  These shellfish producers want to spray this pesticide along the beach in order to kill native populations of ghost and mud shrimp, which hinder the survival of oysters.

Though these farmers contend that spraying this pesticide will have limited impact on the local environment, the potential harmful effects of imidacloprid are still unknown.  It is very important that the Department of Ecology deny this permit and prevent the application of a pesticide to Washington beaches that may have unknown harmful effects on other wildlife or people who consume oysters harvested from affected beaches.

Imidacloprid is an insecticide that is known to be harmful to bees and their hives.  While this particular pesticide is less toxic than many other pesticides, it is still a toxic chemical, whose effects on fish and other aquatic life we are still unsure of.  Both the National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are concerned that the application of imidacloprid along Washington beaches could have unknown harmful effects for the aquatic populations in the area.  In addition, the formal permit application submitted to the Department of Ecology lists aerial application of this pesticide as a possibility, which then raises the possibility of the chemical reaching further wildlife and human populations through aerial chemical drift.

The application of toxic chemicals to the pristine estuaries of Washington is not to be tolerated.  With the unknown possible harmful effects to the aquatic and wildlife populations in the area, the application of imidacloprid is a dangerous proposition.  Please sign the below petition to demand that the Washington State Department of Ecology deny the spraying of this neurotoxic chemical along its shores.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Director Bellon,

I am writing in regards to a recent permit application submitted by local Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor oyster farmers to use a neurotoxic pesticide to control native shrimp populations that impede the growth of their oysters.  Despite these farmers’ arguments that imidacloprid is a less toxic pesticide than many others, the fact remains that its effects on aquatic life are still unknown and need to be further tested before it is widely spread along Washington’s beaches.  Because this pesticide is a neurotoxin with possible unforeseen harmful effects for wildlife and human consumers of oysters, I am asking you to please reject this permit, and not allow these shellfish producers to spread imidacloprid within Washington’s oyster-producing regions.

Imidacloprid is an insecticide that is known to be harmful to bees and their hives.  While bees are not a concern along shellfish beds, their adverse reactions to this chemical prove that there are species outside the intended target of this pesticide that can be negatively impacted by its use.  In addition, the National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have expressed concern that imidacloprid could be harmful to aquatic life, and the EPA is planning on releasing an assessment in December.

Not only are there possible negative effects of this pesticide on other wildlife and the local environment, but the formal permit application submitted to your department lists aerial application of this pesticide as a possibility. This increases the possibility of the chemical reaching further wildlife and human populations through aerial chemical drift.

Ultimately, the use of a neurotoxic chemical within Washington’s pristine estuaries is not to be tolerated, especially when we don’t yet know the extent of its possible harmful effects on aquatic species and environments.  Please protect Washington’s beaches and wildlife by rejecting this permit, and prohibiting the spraying of imidacloprid.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: NOAA

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