Video: Feds shut down 100-year-old oyster company, destroy some lives and dreams

posted at 9:21 pm on November 29, 2012 by Mary Katharine Ham

Hey, no bigs. It’s just a 100-year-old company and California’s only surviving cannery, a sustainable, family-owned operation employing 30 people. The Drakes Bay Oyster Company has been in a seven-year fight with the federal government and environmental groups over whether it’s 40-year lease would be renewed this week. The Lunny family, which owns the oyster farm, was among a group of families that sold their ranch lands to the National Parks Service in the 1970s to protect them from developers, with the understanding they would get 40-year-leases renewed in perpetuity. After buying and operating the oyster farm without incident— they were even featured as outstanding environmental stewards by the National Parks Service— the Lunnys learned in 2005 they were accused of bringing environmental damage to an area the NPS and environmentalists were anxious to designate as the nation’s first federally recognized marine wilderness.

Sec. of the Interior Ken Salazar decided todaythe farm’s lease will not be renewed, despite some support for it from from Sen. Dianne Feinstein and serious questions raised by scientists about the research used to impugn the Lunnys.

“After careful consideration of the applicable law and policy, I have directed the National Park Service to allow the permit for the Drakes Bay Oyster Company to expire at the end of its current term and to return the Drakes Estero to the state of wilderness that Congress designated for it in 1976,” Salazar said in a statement. “I believe it is the right decision for Point Reyes National Seashore and for future generations who will enjoy this treasured landscape.”

Please take 20 minutes to watch this video, a mini-documentary on how the federal government can bully a conscientious, small business into non-existence. It will make you sick to your stomach, especially as Corey Goodman, a member of the National Academy of Science and the California Council on Science and Technology, outlines the lengths to which the feds went to make it look as though Drakes Bay Oyster Co. was a polluter.

OysterZone.org has more information on the history of this fight. And, of course, a quick Google search reveals the federal government gives out subsidies for starting oyster farms on the East Coast while it’s shutting them down on the West. I’m gonna stop now because I’ve gotten this far without cursing.

My thoughts and prayers are with the owners of Drakes Bay and its employees and their families today.


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