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Pesticide use, lobster deaths probed in


Down East waters

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1. Still no verdict: Jury in triple


murder trial to resume
deliberations Tuesday
2. ‘It’s a real dereliction of duty’:
UMaine president’s departure
in midst of 5-year plan stirs
anger, frustration among faculty,
alumni
Robert F. Bukaty and Jason Leigh | AP 3. LePage stops payment to
Atlantic salmon swim in a pen, Friday, Oct. 10, 2008, in Eastport, Maine, where the 2008 harvest is likely to Alexander Group amid
total more than 20 million pounds. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty and Jason Leighton) plagiarism scandal, says
contract may be canceled
By Bill Trotter, BDN Staff
Follow on Twitter Find on Facebook 4. More charges filed against former
Posted Jan. 07, 2011, at 10:36 p.m. Ellsworth furniture store manager
5. Dog in road leads motorists to
Parasites, pesticides, sick salmon and dead lobsters. stricken Bangor woman
These four things have become an issue in Passamaquoddy
Bay, and no one seems to be happy about it.
Not the salmon aquaculture operators, who are using
pesticides to combat a damaging outbreak of sea lice at their
fish pens in Passamaquoddy Bay and adjacent Cobscook Bay.
Not environmentalists, who are concerned about the effect
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the pesticides might be having on surrounding marine life.
And not lobster fishermen, who fear the use of pesticides has
WIDGETS AND DIGITS
contributed to widespread lobster deaths in the past.
Officials in Canada are looking into the use of pesticides in Robert F. Bukaty | AP
and near Passamaquoddy Bay as part of separate ** FILE ** In this Oct. 12, 2008 file
investigations into the deaths of lobsters off Grand Manan photo, farm-raised Atlantic salmon

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move across a conveyor belt as they


The Bangor Daily News uses your location to provide local content are
andbrought
weather. Learna more
aboard harvesting
within easy eyesight of Maine. boat near Eastport, Maine. A state-
Bangor Daily News Account Blogs Start a blog Post News
of-the-artPost Events
salmon Subscribe
processing plant Contact Search BDN Maine Search
Lobsters and sea lice, both crustaceans, are highly vulnerable was recently re-opened by Cooke
to pesticides that salmon farm operators have been using and Aquaculture in Machiasport,
then disposing of in coastal waters, according to officials. Maine. The plant will provide 80
full-time manufacturing jobs in a
As part of the investigation, Environment Canada executed a region of the state plagued by Maine real estate activity rises
search warrant in November at eight facilities in New chronic unemployment. (AP slightly, remains below pre-
Brunswick owned and operated by Cooke Aquaculture, a Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File) recession levels
salmon aquaculture firm that also operates salmon farms in
Maine. Cooke officials have said they are cooperating with the
ongoing investigations. PINE TREECONOMICS

According to media reports, cypermethrin, a pesticide that is


licensed for use in Maine but banned in Canada, was detected
on the dead lobsters found off the two Canadian islands.
In a Dec. 29 e-mail, Henry Lau, a spokesman for
Environment Canada, declined to specifically verify whether
cypermethrin was detected on the dead lobsters found a few
miles away from Maine’s border. He wrote that the Canadian
federal agency is investigating the lobster deaths under the Robert F. Bukaty and Jason Leigh | AP
Diver Scott McNichol checks
authority of Canada’s Fisheries Act, which bans fish-harming
conditions inside an Atlantic
substances from being deposited into fish-bearing waters.
salmon farming pen in Eastport last Friday Chart(s): The Driver of
“Cypermethrin is considered to be harmful to crustaceans month. (AP Photo/Robert F.
Bukaty and Jason Leighton)
the College Wage Premium
including lobster and shrimp,” Lau wrote.
There have been no reports of dead lobsters or of other
MAINE AT WORK
immediate ill effects in Maine from the use of pesticides in
the two bays, but state and lobster industry officials in Maine
are keeping tabs on the Environment Canada investigations
and on the use of pesticides on both sides of the border to
make sure Maine’s lobster indus-try, the largest commercial
fishery in the state, and Maine’s marine environment are not
harmed.

In 2009, the total statewide landings of lobster in Maine had


an estimated cumulative value of $228 million, according to
Robert F. Bukaty | AP
official Maine Department of Marine Resources statistics.
In this Oct. 12, 2008photo, farm-
Farmed salmon, the second most lucrative fishery in Maine,
raised Atlantic salmon are brought This Memorial Day, Let's Honor
brought in $38.7 million in direct revenue to the state’s aboard a harvesting boat near
economy the same year. Official estimated financial values for Eastport. Cooke Aquaculture in Those Who Have Died and
the two fisheries in 2010 are not yet available. Machiasport recently reopened a Reflect on how to Support the
state-of-the art salmon processing Living
Lobster and pesticides plant that will provide 80 full-time
The presence of pesticides in waters off the East Coast has manufacturing jobs. (AP
Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)
been a concern for lobster fishermen since at least 1999, when HACKING EDUCATION
the Long Island Sound lobster population plummeted after
anti-mosquito pesticides were sprayed in the New York City
area to fight the spread of West Nile virus. Long Island Sound
fishermen later sued the pesticide manufacturers and then
settled out of court for more than $16 million.
Patrice McCarron, executive director of the Maine
Lobstermen’s Association, said recently that lobstermen have
good reason to be wary of pesticide use in or near coastal
waters. If not used properly, she said, “a pesticide for salmon
lice would be extremely dangerous to lobsters.”
McCarron said, however, that many aquaculture farmers in The photos were taken by farm staff How to Motivate Your Teenager
on our sites in Cobscook Bay this
Maine have close connections to the lobster industry and take
fall and there is no one that we
pains to avoid harming the marine environment. Still, the use need to identify. These photos show
of pesticides in salmon aquaculture operations needs to be CHANGE UP
the well boat, the Colby Perce,
very precise and tightly controlled, she said. which was purchased by Cooke to
conduct contained bath treatments
“It’s a fine line to make sure you use the proper amount,” on our farms. The Colby Perce did
McCarron said. “We have to find the right balance of sharing not get to Maine until this fall so
the ocean so industries can coexist.” was only used for hydrogen
peroxide. The EXCIS treatments
Jon Lewis, aquaculture environmental coordinator for DMR, were done with tarps on our
said recently that besides monitoring the use of cypermethrin Cobscook Bay farms from May to
in state waters, Maine officials also have noted that a July. I hope these photos work for
pesticide called AlphaMax, which contains the chemical your story. As you can see, we have
deltamethrin, recently was used for the first time at salmon invested heavily in new technology
farms on the Canadian side of Pas-samaquoddy Bay. and in green treatments such as
hydrogen peroxide to manage sea
AlphaMax has not been licensed for use in Maine because no
lice effectively on our farms.
one has sought state approval to do so, he said.

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Information on grants from
AlphaMax, Lewis said. DMR has notBlogs
performed
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testing of deltamethrin on its own, he said.
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According to Lewis, Canadian officials have told DMR that


AlphaMax weakens and disperses in the water so that, 15 EDUCATION: FUTURE IMPERFECT
minutes after it has been released, it cannot be detected
within 100 meters of the pens where it was used. With those
results in mind, he added, testing for AlphaMax miles away
on the American side of Passama-quoddy Bay would not
appear to be a worthwhile use of DMR resources.
But Lewis said he understands why lobstermen might take an
interest in the presence of pesticides in the ocean and in the
dead-lobster investigations in New Brunswick.
“I don’t blame the lobstermen for being concerned,” Lewis
said. “Obviously, it targets crustaceans.”
It's Blue Skies over the U.Maine
Cooke Aquaculture Library (for now)-Part 1
Blacks Harbour, N.B.-based Cooke Aquaculture, which
rotates its Maine operations among two dozen salmon
aquaculture sites in Hancock and Washington counties, this ADVERTISEMENT | Grow your business
past summer used cypermethrin in Cobscook Bay and in the
Maine side of Western Passage between Eastport and Deer Island. In New Brunswick, it recently
started using AlphaMax.
The largest aquaculture firm operating in Maine, Cooke hopes the chemicals can help rid their
farmed salmon of sea lice, parasites that attach themselves to the fish. Sea lice weaken the fish
and expose them to infection and disease, according to officials.

Nell Halse, vice president of communications for Cooke, recently said the firm and other salmon
farmers have been trying to increase the number of pesticides at their disposal because sea lice
seem to be developing resistance to pesticides salmon farmers have been using.

“There is no one magic bullet,” Halse said. “You really need a whole suite of these things.”
Slice, a type of salmon feed that contains emamectin benzoate, has become less effective treating
sea lice in recent years, the Cooke official said. Salmon farmers also have used hydrogen peroxide
but that chemical tends to be less effective at the warmer temperatures that have been more
prevalent in the bays in recent years, she said.
Slice and hydrogen peroxide are not the only pesticides that appear to be becoming ineffective in
killing the parasites, however. According to reports issued in recent years by the Scottish
Environment Protection Agency and by Irish Marine Institute, cypermethrin also has been losing
its effectiveness in killing off sea lice from salmon aquaculture facilities in Europe.

Sebastian Belle, executive director of Maine Aquaculture Association, said recently that higher-
than-average water temperatures in Cobscook and Passamaquoddy bays seem to be contributing
to the local sea lice infestation. Cold winters tend to substantially kill off sea lice, he said, but last
winter that didn’t happen.
“We had a very mild winter last year, so we didn’t get the winter kill that we normally get,” Belle
said.

According to Halse, this led to significant salmon losses at aquaculture sites in Cobscook and
Passamaquoddy bays this past summer.
“It’s been a difficult year for us,” Halse said. “We were fighting this battle with sea lice all
summer long.”
Cooke has more than a dozen salmon aquaculture lease sites in Maine in Cobscook and
Passamaquoddy bays, according to DMR data, but Halse said the company leaves some sites
fallow each year. This past year, Cooke used the brand-name pesticide Excis, which contains
cypermethrin, at 59 of the 76 cages it had at its five operating Maine salmon sites in Cobscook
Bay and Western Passage, Halse said. Each site received only one Excis application during the
treatment period between May and July, she said.

Well-boat treatments
Halse said Cooke recently has been using a new pesticide treatment method that requires smaller
quantities of chemicals and makes it easier for aquaculture operators to control conditions
during treatments.
A common older method involved covering the sides and bottom of salmon pens with tarps and
then applying chemicals directly to fish in the pen. With this method, surrounding sea water still
could get into the pen during treatment, which dilutes the chemical and requires more of the
pesticide to be applied to complete the ap-plication, according to Halse.
But now many fish farmers prefer to use well-boats, which are floating containers that are
maneuvered next to the pens during pesticide treatments. With the well-boat method, fish are

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aquaculture operatorsAccount
to use far lessBlogs
pesticide than the older tarp-wrap method, she said.Halse
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said Cooke plans to use the well-boat application method as much as possible, but only in areas
where it is needed. She said sea lice have not been a problem at other sites in Maine outside of
Cobscook and Passamaquoddy bays, and so Cooke has no plans to use pesticides at its other
salmon farm locations in the state. Nor does it plan to use or seek approval for using AlphaMax
in Maine, she said.
“We were consistently operating all summer,” Halse said of the well-boat treatments. “We’re
going to invest heavily in that.”
But the use of well-boats does not prevent the pesticides from getting into the water. Though the
chemicals are kept separate from the surrounding water during such treatments, the solution is
dumped into the bay next to the pens after the treated salmon have been removed.
According to Belle, however, the chemicals bond quickly with organic compounds in the water,
which greatly reduces their toxicity. So rapid is this process, he said, that the chemicals cannot be
detected on the ocean bottom beneath the pens or otherwise outside of the immediate
aquaculture lease area.
“This stuff degenerates so quickly in the ecosystem,” he said.
For that reason, Belle said, he doesn’t see how the cypermethrin found on the dead lobsters in
New Brunswick could have originated miles away in American waters.
As for the option of disposing of the chemical solutions on shore, Matthew Young of Maine
Department of Environmental Protection’s Bureau of Land and Water Quality, said recently that
there is no officially permitted method for doing so. Cypermethrin, which also is used in
traditional terrestrial farming, is applied in “min-ute” amounts in aquaculture, he said, but both
the pens and well-boats are relatively large, which would make land disposal of the pesticide
solution problematic.
“It would be a massive volume of salt water,” Young said.
Aquaculture operators are required to take water samples from the treatment area and to submit
reports of their findings to DEP, according to Young. DEP officials keep track of the samples to
make sure the pesticides are used within required limits.

“The well-boat is by far the better option,” Young said. “You can do the exact treatment [amount]
that you want.”

Environmental concerns
But the use of well-boats offers little consolation to environmentalists who say that dumping
toxic chemicals into the ocean, even in small quantities, is a bad idea.
Matthew Abbott, coordinator for the environmental group Fundy Baykeeper in St. Andrews, New
Brunswick, said recently that the group is opposed to the use of any amounts of pesticides in
marine environments.
“We consider it toxic waste,” Abbott said of well-boat pesticide solutions. “We know that this
stuff is dangerous.”
Not only can pesticides affect sea lice and lobster, he said, but they can harm plankton such as
copepods and larval lobsters that float higher up in the water column.
“We’re really concerned about the effect on other crustaceans,” Abbott said. “Those crustaceans
form the basis of the food chain for everything up to whales.”
Regardless of the use of pesticides, Abbott said, the practice of concentrating high numbers of
salmon in a cramped area is not ideal. Sea lice occur naturally in the environment, he said, and
can thrive when exposed to high concentrations of captive fish.
“The last couple of years have seen a significant outbreak of sea lice,” Abbott said. “[Pen
aquaculture] creates a breeding ground for the sea lice.”
Dr. Susan Shaw, president of Marine Environmental Research Institute in Blue Hill, said recently
that the use of pesticides in aquaculture, particularly cypermethrin and deltamethrin, is a “huge
cause of concern.” Both chemicals cause animals to go into convulsions and are “extremely toxic”
to crustaceans, she said.
The chemicals also have the potential to build up in the environment after repeated treatments.
The cumulative effect of releasing different chemicals into the environment is unknown, she said.
“I think the use of AlphaMax will be just as problematic as the use of cypermethrin,” Shaw said.
“It’s kind of like dynamite to put that in the marine water.”
Shaw said that even though it is unlikely that the cypermethrin found on the dead lobsters off
Deer Island drifted into Canadian waters from Maine, lobster deaths from pesticides still are a
significant concern. It can be difficult to predict which way the pesticide solution will drift after
being dumped in the water and to predict what kind of animals will find themselves in the plume,
she said.

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Bangor
For Daily
Shaw,News Account
the ultimate answer is toBlogs Start
not farm a blogin the
salmon Postocean.
News She said
Post
it Events Subscribe
consumes or Contact Search BDN Maine Search
compromises too many resources — not just with pesticide exposure in the environment, but also
with the large quantities of smaller fish that must be caught and used as salmon food.
“This is unsustainable,” Shaw said. “If you have to have this [pesticide] cocktail to keep these fish
from being eaten up by lice, how far are you going to take this? The real answer is not to be
growing salmon in marine waters.”

Cooke’s outlook
Halse said the necessary safeguards already are in place to help make sure that salmon
aquaculture is sustainable and compatible with the surrounding environment. She said
restrictions in Canada about how and when AlphaMax can be used are so strict that the pesticide
is “virtually unusable.” Cooke participates in research of the pesticides they use to help make sure
they are used safely, she said, and comply with a “huge number of conditions” imposed by
regulators in each country.
Halse said Cooke would like to avoid having to find new pesticides for sea lice and so is looking
into alternatives to combat the parasite. In Norway, she said, salmon farmers have been putting a
type of smaller fish known as a wrasse, which eat the lice off the salmon, into the pens with the
bigger fish. Wrasse are not native to North America and so cannot be used in salmon farms here,
she said, but Cooke officials are looking for a native species of fish that can be used to do the
same thing, which would greatly reduce or eliminate the need for pesticides.
In the meantime, Cooke and other Canadian salmon farmers are cooperating fully with
Environment Canada in the lobster death investigations, according to Halse.
“It is in our interest to have that [issue] resolved,” she said.

The combination of the sea lice outbreak, the pesticide use and the lobster deaths has led to an
“unfortunate” atmosphere of distrust between salmon farmers, lobster fishermen and
environmentalists, Halse said. She described the controversy as partially “artificial.”

She said that lobstering is important to the communities where Cooke operates and that both
industries have grown side-by-side in recent years. Cooke wants to make sure that it can get
along with and continue to grow with its neighbors, she said.

“It’s really important that they both coexist and remain healthy,” Halse said.

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