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Washington Oyster Growers Reach Agreement to End Carbaryl Use in Willapa Bay
(May 5, 2003)
After years of legal battles and contentious meetings, environmental groups and Willapa Bay/Grays Harbor Oyster Growers Association in Washington state reached an agreement to phase out the use of carbaryl to control burrowing shrimp. The agreement phases out all use of carbaryl for oyster production by 2012, starting with a 10 percent reduction in the 2003 growing season.

Although environmental groups, including Washington Toxics Coalition and the Ad Hoc Coalition for Willapa Bay, had hoped for a complete ban of the chemical in the production of oysters, representatives say they are "thrilled."

"We're thrilled that Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor will see the end of carbaryl use. We look forward to assisting the oyster growers in finding alternative methods," said Erika Schreder, staff scientist with the Washington Toxics Coalition in Seattle.

Carbaryl has been used in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor for nearly 40 years to control burrowing shrimp that hamper oyster cultivation. The phase out decreases carbaryl use in the bays by 10 percent in 2003, 30 percent in 2004, 30 percent in 2005, and completely by 2012. As part of the agreement, the groups have pledged to work together to develop alternatives that will preserve the environment as well as the oyster industry.

The Washington State oyster growers were allowed to use the controversial chemical through a section of national pesticide regulation that allows local governments to permit additional unregistered pesticide uses, as authorized by the "Special Local Needs (SLN)" (Section 24c) of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). In this case, the SLN was defined as burrowing shrimp in the oyster beds.

Critics of SLNs cite that many of the registrations are repeated year after year with little or no evaluation of adverse environmental impacts or review of current scientific literature. In the case of the production of oysters off the coast of Washington, critics have always felt strongly that effective alternatives are available. These critics include local oyster grower Larry Warnberg, who does not use pesticides and is a member of the Ad-hoc Coalition. He stated, "I have alternatives to carbaryl that are working for me on my small farm," Adding, "This agreement gives the larger producers time to develop alternatives that work for them."

Public Comments on EPA Carbaryl Review Due by June 2, 2003
Currently EPA is undergoing a full review of carbaryl as part of the Congressionally mandated review of all pesticides registered before 1984. The Revised Risk Assessment is now available for comment, the Federal Register notice is available on the EPA website. The Risk Assessment covers all of the EPA determined risks for the remaining registered uses of the pesticide. These risks are assessed for residential use, occupational use, exposure through food and drinking water, as well as ecological risks to plants and wildlife. The EPA is seeking comment on the measures suggested in the document to reduce the risks of using carbaryl.