Government fish poisoning program may be poisoning us, Videoby Jonathan DuHamel on Nov. 10, 2011, under General Science
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), U.S. Forest Service (USFS), and the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AGFD) have plans to apply the pesticide rotenone to many Arizona streams. The objective is to rid those streams of non-native species some of which those agencies put there many years ago.
This program, called “stream renovation” is part of the green philosophy of certain government agencies to return the streams to their natural conditions whatever they guess that was. The program has come under fire on several fronts.
Recent research shows that rotenone is linked to Parkinson’s Disease in humans, even at very low doses, especially for people genetically predisposed to Parkinson’s. Rotenone works by inhibiting the function of the mitochondria, the structure responsible for making energy in the cell.
The association of Parkinson’s is of concern to people who derive drinking water downstream of kill sites. For instance, one proposed site for use of rotenone is Red Rock Canyon near Patagonia, AZ. The town residents derive drinking water from wells downstream of the kill site.
AGFD says that rotenone is safe and has been used for fish management for years. But FWS says we can’t eat fish poisoned with rotenone (See FWS pamphlet). FWS downplays danger to drinking water but then says in the pamphlet:
Q: Can rotenone-treated water be used for public consumption or irrigation of crops?
A: Tolerances for rotenone in drinking and irrigation water have not yet been established by EPA even though the studies required for setting tolerances have been completed. This does not mean that rotenone concentrations in drinking or irrigation waters is actually unsafe; it just means that the EPA has not established rotenone tolerances at this time. As a result, water containing residues of rotenone cannot be legally allowed for use as a domestic water source or on crops.
Are you reassured?
AGFD says rotenone “typically degrades in one to eight weeks in lakes and as fast as 24 hours in streams. Because it is so readily degraded, it disappears from lake sediments quickly and does not penetrate well through soil, and therefore does not pose a threat to groundwater.” But studies in California show that rotenone can persist up to six months in lake sediments. Degradation depends on temperature and soil conditions.
There also have been incidents of inadvertent fish kills downstream of programed kill sites. To prevent downstream fish kills, rotenone must be chemically neutralized to control its toxic effects, usually with potassium permanganate. But that’s often improperly applied. For instance, the White Mountain Independent reported: “Arizona Game and Fish Department biologists accidentally poisoned fish in the Little Colorado River and the West Fork of the Little Colorado River in the Greer area. The fish kill was discovered late Wednesday (Aug. 2), and was most noticeable on Thursday, Aug.3, 2006. The kill is the accidental result of a trout removal project being conducted at the time by fisheries biologists higher upstream on the Apache National Forest. There have been many more such incidents.
Applying rotenone to streams will kill not only non-native species, but also most other animal life in the streams. That means the government agencies will have to re-establish the favored native species. It also means there is danger of poisoning wildlife and other animals that may ingest the dead fish.
The fish kill programs are of limited effectiveness. Although rotenone kills most aquatic life, it does not kill fish eggs. Therefore, the unwanted species eventually recover and the application of rotenone must be repeated again and again. This, of course, leads to further risk for humans and our water supply. And why take the risk? The “stream renovation” program is completely unnecessary. The non-native fish pose no real threat to most native species, except possibly an aesthetic one. See the video for a review of actual practise and danger.
Video from http://www.stopriverkilling.org/
In testimony to USFS, Patagonia attorney Dennis Parker notes another government program based on incomplete or bad science in regard non-native fish:
In the upper Verde River, for example, in 1994, despite the imposing presence of non-native fishes, the native warm water fish assemblage then made up more than 80% of the total assemblage of fishes found in that stretch of the river under a controlled livestock presence management regime (RMRS fish monitoring data, 1994; Rinne and Miller, 2006). This data clearly shows that despite the presence of non-natives, the upper Verde’s native warm water fish assemblage was then holding its own. In 1997, however, all livestock presence was excluded from federal lands along the upper Verde River by the USFS. This major federal action was implemented, and is continuing to be implemented, by the USFS for the alleged benefit of the federally listed Spikedace in the absence of either scientific support or NEPA analysis.
By 1999, the Spikedace was extinct in the upper Verde River, and by 2008, the upper Verde’s native warm water fish assemblage had plummeted from making up more than 80% of the aggregate of all fishes present there to less than 20%. Long-finned Dace and Speckled Dace, two of the formerly most common native fishes found in the upper Verde River, are today relegated in occurrence to just two privately owned locations on the river where controlled livestock presence still occurs
These unintended consequences occurred because cattle browse on aquatic plants such as cattails. Without the cattle, the streams became choked with plants that crowded out the fish and made the water murky which inhibited development.
The attempt of government programs to manage our streams toward some imagined ideal has resulted in only limited success, in some cases the opposite of what was intended, and poses a potential danger to human health. Is it really worth the risk just to satisfy some aesthetic philosophical concept?
Cavoski, I., et al., 2008, Degradation and Persistence of Rotenone in Soils and Influence of Temperature Variations, J. Agric. Food Chem. 2008, 56, 8066–8073.
Giasson, B.I. and Lee, V.M.Y., 2000, A new link between pesticides and Parkinson’s disease, nature neuroscience, Vol. 3, no. 12 .
Mangum, F.A. and Madrigal, J.L., 1999, Rotenone Effects on Aquatic Macroinvertebraes of the Strawberry River, Utah, Journal of Freshwater Ecology, Vol. 14, no. 1.
Pan-Montojo et al., 2010, Progression of Parkinson’s Disease Pathology Is Reproduced by Intragastric Administration of Rotenone in Mice, PLoS ONE, January 2010,Vol. 5, Issue 1.
Tanner et al., 2011, Rotenone, Paraquat and Parkinson’s Disease, National Institute of Health Sciences, doi: 10.1289/ehp.1002839.