Oyster farmer battles federal government’s order to shuck operation
A California family that has operated an oyster farm on the bucolic Northern California coast is fighting back after the federal government moved to kick it off of the National Park Service property where the shellfish have been legally harvested for nearly 80 years.
The Drakes Bay Oyster Company faces closure and its 30 employees will be out of work if the National Park Service reclaims some 1,100 acres of an estuary as part of a plan to create a larger marine wilderness preserve at Point Reyes National Seashore in Marin County. Owner Kevin Lunny said federal officials told him on Thursday — one day before his company’s 40-year lease was set to expire — that he had three months to clear out. On Tuesday, he announced he’s suing.
“We’re not going to walk away,” Lunny told reporters during a conference call. “We’re fighting for our community.”
Lunny said the company currently has roughly 10 million immature oysters worth up to $5 million awaiting harvest.
Lunny has an ally in Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who had tried to get the lease extended for another decade. But even her clout failed to sway U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.
“I am extremely disappointed that Secretary Salazar chose not to renew the operating permit for the Drakes Bay Oyster Company,” Feinstein said in a statement. “The National Park Service’s review process has been flawed from the beginning with false and misleading science, which was also used in the Environmental Impact Statement. The secretary’s decision effectively puts this historic California oyster farm out of business. As a result, the farm will be forced to cease operations and 30 Californians will lose their jobs.”
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/12/10/family-owned-california-oyster-farm-to-fight-federal-government-over-lease/#ixzz2F2DFDeps