Government, Growers, Industry Act to Protect Endangered Salmon and Steelhead Trout

Nov. 22, 2014

November 20, 2014, SAN FRANCISCOToday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries, in cooperation with state agencies, rice growers and industry, announced an agreement to create federally enforceable restrictions of the pesticide thiobencarb, an herbicide used on rice crops, to protect threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead trout in California.

“Working closely with our state and federal partners, our joint efforts will protect salmon and steelhead trout while maintaining rice production in California,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “This action also supports EPA’s commitment to minimize pesticide pollution in the San Francisco Bay Delta.”

“This is a smart approach to pesticide use that includes important safeguards for protected fish while still allowing growers to care for their crops,” said Will Stelle, administrator of NOAA Fisheries’ West Coast Region. “This demonstrates that we can find balanced and workable solutions through collaboration.”

U.S. EPA, NOAA Fisheries, California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR), the California Rice Commission, and Valent, the manufacturer of the pesticide thiobencarb, worked to put these restrictions in place.

The CDPR put in place measures to protect salmon and steelhead trout based on proximity to endangered species habitat according to NOAA Fisheries geographic locations and information from rice growers.  After reviewing CDPR’s data on pesticide use and the state’s protective measures, NOAA Fisheries found that thiobencarb use on rice in California would not jeopardize salmon and steelhead trout provided protective measures currently being applied in California are ensured.  

U.S. EPA is now making California’s geographic use limits federally enforceable by incorporating them into the pesticide label. These use limitations will be effective April 1, 2015. This action represents U.S. EPA’s first implementation of a NOAA Fisheries salmon and steelhead trout Biological Opinion. This action was a result of litigation brought against U.S. EPA and NOAA Fisheries by the Washington Toxics Coalition and the Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides. NOAA Fisheries’ final Biological Opinion for thiobencarb is at  

The protection measures included in the NOAA Fisheries’ final Biological Opinion came from several sources including the California enforcement standards, the use limitations on California’s on-line database that recommends protective measures for endangered and threatened species and from the management practices the California Rice Commission receives from the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board.

California is the only state within the range of Pacific salmon and steelhead trout where rice is grown. Thiobencarb is typically used on rice from May 1 through June 15.

View the Thiobencarb use restrictions for endangered salmon in 14 California counties where rice is grown at

For more information on endangered species protection bulletins visit our BullentinsLive site at

Learn more about EPA’s work to restore and protect the San Francisco Bay Delta at

Source: US EPA