Have you heard the latest chapter in the fight to keep Drakes Bay Oyster Company open? Supporters of the Point Reyes National Seashore oyster-farm operation recently took up the cause and filed yet another lawsuit this month to keep the oyster farm operational.
Owner Kevin Lunny is—or was—under a court order to shutter his operation by July 31, after a “final” appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court failed to gain the justices’ attention. Now Lunny has at least another month to farm and sell his oysters, as a federal court sorts out the latest lawsuit, which hinges on the constitutionality of the Department of the Interior’s original shutdown order. (Note: At this point, reportorial objectivity is about to go out the window.)
OK, you guys win: Long live Drakes Bay oysters!
God, it feels good to say that.
The lead plaintiff in the case is Tomales Bay Oyster Co., a competitor to the north. Tomales’ presence signals that this may be a critical moment for the North Bay aquaculture economy as a whole, and that voracious demand for the bivalve won’t ease just because Drakes Bay Oyster Col. is pushed out of business.
What then for oyster lovers? Who’s going to be the first to suggest that the state import BP-fouled bivalves from the Gulf of Mexico to replace what would be lost at Drakes Bay Oyster Co.?
Wilderness-focused activists say Lunny should be held to the terms of his lease, which expired in 2012 and set off the legal battle. Those activists say the farm should revert to its natural state, and that pro-Lunny forces should lay off the appeals to the feds and the palate.
Anyone who has studied the issue should have some ambivalence: Do you want sustainable aquaculture or a vast tract of pristine wilderness? And do we really have to pick one? I visited the facility a few months ago and was left surprised that the operation, for all the outsized controversy surrounding it, is actually quite small.
The oysters, on the other hand, are huge and luscious.
It’s over for this reporter: Drakes Bay forever! To the ramparts with the shucking knife!
Tom Gogola is the news editor for the ‘Bohemian.’
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