North Bay Business Journal

Friday, July 11, 2014, 4:14 pm

Drakes Bay Oyster plans shutdown as it explores legal options

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    After the U.S. Supreme Court recently declined to consider reinstating a lease to farm and pack shellfish in Point Reyes National Seashore, Drakes Bay Oyster Co. this week decided to plan to shut down at the end of this month but continue the legal fight to get back in business.

    Oyster clusters are raised on wires, known as "strings", submerged into Drakes Estero of Drakes Bay.

    Thirty workers at Drakes Bay Oyster Co. will be out of work July 31, as the company is “out of legal options to keep the farm open while (it continues) litigation.” (credit: Drakes Bay Oyster)

    “It is with heavy hearts that we report that the oyster farm shack and cannery must close on July 31,” owners Kevin and Nancy Lunny wrote in an message to its email list Friday morning. “The injunction that had allowed us to keep them open while we petitioned the Supreme Court went away when the Supreme Court decided not to take our case.”

    There was a federal court injunction on a National Park Service decision not to renew a lease to operate in Drakes Estero until the Supreme Court decided whether it would hear the company’s case to overturn that action. The top court on June 30 declined to take up the matter, without comment.

    The injunction was to last until 30 days after the U.S. Supreme Court decision. The legal teams of the 30-employee company and park service met Monday to discuss next moves, and that’s when the farm decided it would close, according to a spokeswoman for the family. The Lunnys plan to take the next two weeks to decide next steps.

    The Lunnys, fourth-generation Point Reyes ranchers, purchased the oyster farm in 2004. In a letter to the community published in the Point Reyes Light on Thursday, they said they borrowed about $1 million to upgrade and clean up the operations after taking over operations in January 2005.

    “We truly believed the park would be relieved,” the Lunnys wrote. “Instead, things went downhill. … We quickly became the target of an ugly attempt by the park to paint our family as ‘environmental felons.’”

    Drakes Bay Oyster (drakesbayoyster.com) produces about one-third of California-grown oysters and is the last such cannery in the state.

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    1. July 12, 2014, 6:28 pm

      by Catherine Rucker

      The Secretary’s actions have all been according to the law. The Secretary applied the Wilderness Act of 1964, which defines the DBOC as a prohibited use – in Section 4(c). See 16 U.S.C. 1133(c). And then the Secretary applied Section 3 of the National Park System Act of 1976 (Public Law No. 94-567), to remove the DBOC, as a prohibited use. This allowed the Drake’s Estero Potential Wilderness Area to automatically be designated as a Wilderness Area.

    2. July 13, 2014, 3:42 pm

      by Margaret Koski-kent

      A sad day for Marin County Agriculture. Hopefully there is a way and a light shining for them to continue to produce DELICIOUS and WONDERFUL LOCAL product to the north bay community.

    3. July 14, 2014, 9:00 am

      by Denise

      Let the public’s voice be heard! Sometimes laws need to be changed. It appears that more people would rather experience the ocean’s bounty from this area instead of having one more viewing point. Perhaps a Bundy Ranch” like demonstration is in order here for the government to listen to what “the people” want for OUR dollars.

    4. July 16, 2014, 3:17 pm

      by Van Derel

      Aww shucks.

    5. July 17, 2014, 12:42 pm

      by Bob

      Another reason why laws passed in Washington DC sometimes do not reflect the real environmental situation at where they are being enforced. Ag business needs to get out of California before it is regulated out of California. We want food; fish, fruits, vegatables, grains, meats, milk, etc., but California does not want the industries that produce those product for society in Californa.

      We rather buy from out of State or from another Country, assuming that these foreign Countries do a better job managing the environment then we do.

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