Marin judge shucks enforcement against Drakes Bay Oyster

SAN RAFAEL -- In a move considered rare against California Coastal Commission enforcement orders, a Marin County judge on Thursday blocked commission enforcement orders deemed devastating to Drakes Bay Oyster Co., which harvests one-third of California's supply.

[caption id="attachment_94621" align="alignright" width="240"] Drakes Bay Oyster raised clusters of the creatures on wires, known as "strings," submerged in Drakes Estero. The company feared that a California Coastal Commission order last year would force removal of the 95 such racks. (credit: Drakes Bay Oyster)[/caption]

The west Marin oyster farm still has an appeal against a National Park Service refusal to renew the company's lease in Point Reyes National Seashore, but attorneys for the farm hope the U.S. Supreme Court as soon as Monday will take up the matter.

In a 23-page judgment filed Thursday, Marin County Superior Court judge Roy Chernus ruled that the commission does have jurisdiction over the company's operations, but it "abused its discretion" by issuing cease-and-desist and restitution orders without studying the environmental impact of the work needed to comply with those actions.

The commission contended that its requirements for the oyster farm to continue operating and do remediation were exempted enforcement actions, thus not needing an environmental impact report, or EIR, beforehand.

Judge Chernus disagreed, noting "unusual circumstances" -- a legal standard for the exemption -- of the oyster company's operations in Point Reyes National Seashore, an area with protected species for the past four decades and set to be reverted to wilderness.Drakes Bay Oyster plans shutdown as it explores legal options

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. on July 7 decided to plan to shut down at the end of the month but continue the legal fight to get back in business. [read more] Oyster farm denied hearing in top U.S. court

On June 30, the U.S. Supreme Court declined without comment to hear an appeal by Drakes Bay Oyster Co. of federal judicial actions against the company's ability to continue operating in Point Reyes National Seashore in west Marin County.

The Lynny family's legal team vowed to continue the battle. [read more]

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