S&TA hails successful lobbying against the “silent killer” of water life

From today (February 22nd), the Veterinary Medicines Directorate  (VMD) has banned the sale of cypermethrin sheep dips throughout the UK.  It acknowledges that the toxicological information showing the serious damage cypermethrin sheep dips have on the environment is too overwhelming to ignore and that it does not have the information it needs from the manufacturers even to attempt to provide guidance on the pollution risk.

The Salmon & Trout Association (S&TA) is celebrating this long due victory for flylife, fisheries, the environment and rural communities.  As long ago as 1997, when these dips became widely used, the S&TA and the Anglers' Conservation Association (ACA) jointly called for a ban.  Now, at last, the VMD has agreed and an outright ban is in effect immediately. 

This ban came after concerted political pressure at all levels from the S&TA, our angling partners in Wales, Buglife, the Atlantic Salmon Trust, and the National Association of Fisheries and Angling Consultatives (NAFAC).  We welcome the EA's positive support in drawing together the body of evidence and submitting it to the VMD, as well as providing the general support towards achieving this overall success.  We also value the ACA's threat of judicial review and legal action.

“Cypermethrin sheep dip pollution has been devastating flylife populations across wide areas of the country,” Paul Knight, S&TA Director, explains.  “We brought to light the damning Government commissioned evidence showing that this powerful chemical routinely enters watercourses, wipes out invertebrates and other riverlife, and in one part per billion has a serious effect on fish reproduction.  At these incomprehensibly small amounts, the chemical significantly reduces the sperm produced by the spawning male salmon, and the chances for egg survival.  This harm has serious implications for the survival of the world famous salmon, sea trout and wild brown trout populations.”

S&TA and its UK wide membership and partners pressed for targeted Environment Agency pollution monitoring and timely and public reporting of the results.  The pervasive and deadly pollution was everywhere the EA looked – even downstream of the ADAS model sheep dipping and farming advisory farm.  The best in the business cannot use cypermethrin sheep dip without causing serious water pollution. 

The S&TA kept the pressure up with parliamentary questions, public forum questions to the VMD, ongoing communication with ministers and government officials at all levels, and the all important media exposure.

The S&TA believes that given the overwhelming environmental evidence showing pervasive damage, it will be difficult for the manufacturers of the products to now put forward evidence that argues against it.  However, the VMD confirms that the manufacters have not yet withdrawn their applications for the renewal of the cypemethrin sheep dip licence.  This means the door is still open, allbeit very narrowly, for the manufacturers to submit evidence in favour of a licence renewal.

“This ban is a notable victory, to which all contributors can feel proud for flylife, fisheries and the environment,” cheers Paul Knight  

The S&TA goal now is to make the ban permanent and push for the restoration of the waters and wildlife damaged by cypermethrin sheep dip.  Better rivers equal richer communities.  The continued use of powerful chemicals in the environment is one that still needs to be addressed,” continues Paul Knight.

We will carry this work forward with our members, the Fisheries and Angling Conservation Trust (FACT), Buglife, the Riverfly Partnership Group, and through our association with Wildlife and Countryside Link to support making sustainable and via ble sheep farming in the UK a reality,” Paul Knight concludes.