Recommendations from blue-ribbon advisory panel incorporated into revamped procedures
PHOENIX – The Arizona Game and Fish Department has lifted its self-imposed moratorium on the use of rotenone or other registered piscicides (pesticides used to kill undesired fish) in fisheries management projects after incorporating process improvements recommended by a blue-ribbon advisory panel.
Rotenone is used in limited applications for native fish recovery projects or aquatic invasive species control. It is currently the only piscicide commercially available for use in removing fish for management purposes. It has been used as a fisheries management tool in North America since the 1930s and has been registered in the U.S. as a piscicide since 1947.
Among the Arizona stream renovation projects in which piscicides have been used are the initial renovation of Fossil Creek (restoration of native roundtail and headwater chub), as well as Ash Creek (restoration of Gila trout), and Bear Wallow and Fish creeks (restoration of Apache trout).
Game and Fish Director Larry Voyles established the moratorium in February 2011 so that concerns expressed by some members of the public over perceptions of environmental or human health impacts from rotenone could be more thoroughly understood and addressed.
Voyles established the blue ribbon panel, called the Rotenone Review Advisory Committee, in June 2011 to scientifically examine all aspects of rotenone. The committee, made up of more than 20 experts from government agencies, private entities and nongovernmental organizations, examined an exhaustive quantity of information and confirmed much of the Game and Fish Department’s understanding of the use, risk and benefit of rotenone. View the committee’s final report.
“Notably, the committee agreed with the Environmental Protection Agency’s conclusion that rotenone can be used safely without harm to the environment or unacceptable risk to the public, including the concern over Parkinson’s Disease,” said Fisheries Chief Kirk Young.
The committee also found areas in which the department could strengthen procedures for projects using piscicides. It recommended the development of a Game and Fish Commission policy for the department to follow the EPA-endorsed procedures for piscicide applications. The policy was approved by the commission in January.
The mechanism that ensures compliance with the commission policy and incorporates the advisory committee’s recommendations is the department’s new Piscicide Treatment Planning and Procedures Manual. It provides standardized procedures for planning and implementing piscicide treatments, including provisions for public engagement, incorporation of industry best practices, and compliance with applicable internal procedures and state and federal laws.
“The manual provides a process that involves significant internal oversight, state and federally required procedures, public outreach, and peer review of piscicide treatment plans,” said Young. “These requirements will ensure treatments have minimal impacts to the environment and avoid impacts to human health and drinking water supplies.”
“Given the extensive science-based review and recommendations provided by the advisory committee, the new commission policy governing the use of rotenone, and the intensive processes required in the newly established manual, I am reassured that the use of this important tool can be done safely and responsibly, and have therefore lifted the moratorium on the department’s use of it in Arizona,” said Director Voyles.
For more information on rotenone, visit www.azgfd.gov/h_f/rotenone.shtml.