Pacific Swell | Southern California environment news and trends

Rotenone and chemical policy: fish kills and trout angling

I've been on an extended vacation for the last coupla weeks - including in New Orleans, about which I'll have something to say later. But as I re-enter my brain into my job, I noticed this Chicago Tribune story about plans to apply Rotenone to deal with Asian Carp - an invasive species in the Great Lakes region.

Some years back (nearly three!) I did a story on aquatic invasive species in California. (Can't seem to find it on our website, but here's an external link.) California, of course, has thrown Rotenone in its lakes, too. And just recently the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board met in Tahoe to approve Rotenone for killing invasive species in a place they're trying to protect angling for Paiute cutthroat trout.

Here's some information on Rotenone from the Pesticide Action Network and from the more middle-of-the-road Wikipedia entry.

All this Rotenone talk is an interesting opportunity to think through the tradeoffs again. In all the reporting it's difficult to figure out what's at stake in our chemical policies and how big are the stakes on either side of the table. MUCH EASIER to call it a fish genocide or just assert Rotenone doesn't harm humans. HARDER to figure out what the effects of using this kind of a chemical might be, in whatever volume it's being used. And sure as hell not easy to explain something that may not be fully explained to science itself.