The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission approved voluntary guidelines for egg cure manufacturers to reduce or eliminate the use of sodium sulfites in bait cures used for salmon eggs.
Beginning Oct. 1, all new production of cured eggs and eggs cured with commercially available cures should not have more than 12 grams of sodium sulfite per kilogram of cured eggs, a risk level considered acceptable by fishery managers.
A peer-reviewed study by ODFW and Oregon State University found that some commercially available egg cures killed juvenile chinook and steelhead when the fish consumed the eggs. The problem was linked to sodium sulfite, an ingredient that is used to inhibit mold growth. When ODFW tested cured eggs, it found levels of 15 to 50 grams of sodium sulfite per kg of eggs.
Last year, the Commission indicated support for a phased, non-regulatory approach to address the problem. Through a collaborative effort with the cured egg and egg cure industry, ODFW staff developed a solution that causes minimal impacts on juvenile salmonids. The Department will lead an education and outreach effort to encourage anglers that make their own homemade cures to consider using borax instead of sodium sulfite.