Drakes Bay Oyster Company Ordered to Close

Categories: Controversy

Farmshot_CrJoshEdelson.jpg
Josh Edelson
The few buildings that make up Drakes Bay Oyster Company.
Big news today for oyster fans: In a 2-1 decision, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco denied Drakes Bay Oyster Farm's suit to stay open. The oyster company, which operates on the 2,500-acre Drakes Estero up near Point Reyes, was ordered to close last December by then-Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, who declined to renew the farm's operating permit on the grounds that the land should return to wilderness.

See also: Shuck and Jive: Drakes Bay Oyster Company Forces a Redefinition of Environmentalism

Drakes Estero was designated as "potential wilderness" by the Point Reyes National Wilderness Act of 1976, which dictated that after the oyster company's 40-year operating permit expired in 2012, the land would become full marine wilderness -- the highest government protection for land and the first of its kind on the West Coast.

This is a win for environmental groups who fought for the oyster company to be removed from the land. "The court ruling affirms that our national parks will be preserved and is another step closer to being protected as wilderness for the American people. Incredibly beautiful places like Drakes Estero need to be returned to their full splendor as Congress determined decades ago when the land was purchased by and for the American public. We have been waiting for this moment for 40 years," says Neal Desai, Associate Director of the Pacific Region for the National Parks Conservation Association, in a statement.

When we reached Drakes Bay Oyster Company owner Kevin Lunny, he hadn't even had time to read through today's decision, let alone parse what it meant. "It's a disappointing day," he says. "I can't get my mind off what this really means for Marin County and for the San Francisco Bay Area. What it means for West Marin, our history and culture of a small coastal community. What it means for all the people whose jobs depend on this, all the families who enjoy coming out and learning where their food comes from and enjoying fresh, sustainable seafood."

As I wrote in a lengthy feature on the battle over Drakes Bay Oyster Company back in May, the closing of the oyster farm will likely have an impact on local oyster consumption. The farm employs nearly two dozen workers, and provides a significant source of half-shell and shucked oysters to the Bay Area. More than 50,000 people visit the farm every year.

The farm should still be open this weekend, if you want to drive up and eat a few dozen fresh oysters before it closes its doors. Directions from San Francisco can be found on the farm's website.

UPDATE, 9/4: Drakes Bay Oyster Company announced today that it is petitioning for a rehearing on the case, and will remain open in the interim.

Follow @annaroth





My Voice Nation Help
16 comments
metaskeptik
metaskeptik

Nice that the courts see nimbys for what they are; everyone wants to be environmental until it deprives them of something they desire.

Alex Saneski
Alex Saneski

It sucks for the workers and the oyster industry in California. Its funny they want to return it to "wilderness" when its called Drakes Bay. A spot where some European named Sir Francis Drake met the local Miwok people. So how is it a wilderness if people were living there? Maybe they should hand it back to them and call it fair. But that's something else I guess. Too bad because that bay is so good for oysters unlike that other bay nearby that's full of all kinds of shit.

Robert Eujene Ogden
Robert Eujene Ogden

Spoke with locals in Bolinas yesterday on the topic. They are very not impressed. I think they're on to something.

Rikki Thompson
Rikki Thompson

It's not like they were surprised the lease was ending. Just sayin'.

Marcy Aranda
Marcy Aranda

Sucks! Drakes has been around for nearly a century...I think the area has evolved to accept it.

Eric Ehrhardt
Eric Ehrhardt

All economic scramblings .... say welcome to higher prices, out-of-state produced oysters, and falling standards.

sobbyjames21
sobbyjames21

In other words, someone at DBOF failed to make a sizeable enough campaign contribution to Obama and/or Salazar.

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

©2014 SF Weekly, LP, All rights reserved.
Loading...