2008-05-01 / Letters to the Editor

Fishermen weigh in on methoprene

This is in response to the letter from Joseph M. Conlon, technical advisor for the American Mosquito Control Association. Rhode Island lobstermen never claimed that methoprene was the sole cause of the dwindling lobster population. But we also don't know that it is not a contributing factor. We clearly said, "We don't know" what is killing the lobsters.

Although tests have been performed that claim methoprene is not harmful to lobsters and other marine life with enough dilution factored in to the equation; none of the tests address the effects of build-up through prolonged use of the chemicals. Nor do the tests address the possibility of lethal reactions if toxic pesticides combine with or react to other chemicals in the water. Methoprene is highly toxic to fish and estuarine invertebrates. In one study, for example, the lethal concentration required to kill half of a freshwater shrimp population (LC50) is 0.0001 parts per billion.

We are opposed to any toxic chemicals being imposed on New England waters or anywhere else because, as we said, "We don't know" what is killing the lobsters, and we don't want to add the least bit of additional stress to an alarming and already stressful situation.

Also, Maine does not have a mosquito abatement program. And, if Mr. Conlon will read a document from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection titled "Permits for Application of Aquatic Pesticides to Control Vectors of West Nile Virus," Section III, Paragraph 1, under the subheading "Prohibitions," the document clearly says:

Broad-spectrum pesticides including, but not limited to, temephos and methoprene shall not be permitted for use in "Waters of the State."

Mosquito abatement programs do not need to jeopardize our sensitive marine environment. For example, the larvicide BTI (Bacillus thurengiensis israelensis) is a naturally occurring soil bacteria in different strains that target specific insects. Bt's are not known to be toxic to animals, birds, humans, fish or beneficial insects. We all need to remember that dilution is not the solution to Pollution!

Lanny Dellinger,

President, Rhode Island Lobstermen's Association

Dennis Ingram

Ocean State Fishermen's Association

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