Daily News Archive
From March 7, 2002

Oyster Growers Request Permit to Spray Pesticides to Control Native Shrimp

The Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor Oyster Growers Association wants to spray more than three tons of pesticides onto the tidelands of Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor in order to control native shrimp that are considered a problem for oyster production. Despite the concerns of local residents, other oyster growers who produce oysters without pesticides, and the Shoalwater Bay Tribe, the Washington State Department of Ecology has now issued a draft permit that violates the Clean Water Act and allows the oyster growers to pollute water with huge quantities of the pesticide carbaryl. If the final permit allows the spray, Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor would be the only place in the country where spraying carbaryl into water or on tidelands is allowed.

Carbaryl, a suspected endocrine disruptor, is toxic to both people and animals. Because its use in Willapa Bay results in such high concentrations in the bay, it poses a particular threat to salmon and other aquatic life. Five species of salmon are present in Willapa Bay, as well as cutthroat trout. Coho in Willapa Bay are candidates for Endangered Species Act listing, and listing of cutthroat trout has been proposed. Carbaryl has a number of effects on salmon and trout, including impaired growth and reproductive success, bone abnormalities, and disruption of schooling behavior. It is also certain to affect their food supply.

Burrowing shrimp are considered a problem for oyster production because they make the tideflats too soft for "bottom culture," or oyster production directly on the tideflats. Many oyster growers, however, use production methods that do not rely on pesticides. Some methods solve the problem by keeping oysters off the tideflat surface. For example, many growers use stakes or stake-and-line production; others use bags and racks. In addition, some growers spread oyster shells or use crop rotation to allow production on the tideflats. These methods could be used by many more growers to end the need for the use of pesticides to control burrowing shrimp.

Comments may be sent to the Washington State Department of Ecology before March 22, 2002. Submit your comments to: Kathleen Emmett, Water Quality Program, PO Box 47600, Olympia, WA 98504-7600; or [email protected]. For more information, contact Erika Schreder, Washington Toxics Coalition, 206-632-1545 x19 or [email protected].