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Save the Drakes Bay Oyster Company

Drakes Bay Oyster Company Shells Clean SF Bay in Largest Oyster Restoration in California

NPS Will Not Approve Research into Native Oysters and Their Restoration

The Drakes Bay Oyster Farm is the only shellfish farm located within the Point Reyes National Seashore (PRNS). It is one of the many cultural and natural resource that the the National Seashore was created to protect. and has been enjoyed by tens of thousands of visitors each year. Visitors are thrilled to experience the farming and processing operation, witness the history, learn about the estuarine ecosystem and bring home some of the fabulous shellfish grown in these beautiful tidelands. Today, this historic facility is the home of the last operating oyster cannery (shucking and packing operation) in the state of California and is an important part of the bounty of the renowned working landscapes found within the Point Reyes National Seashore.

The National Park Service (NPS) clearly recognized the benefit of the shellfish operation within the Point Reyes National Seashore, when, in 1997, it approved a 12,000 square foot, two-story building to replace the existing 1,200 square foot cannery and paid for the environmental assessment for the project. The plans included a new oyster stringing building, a garage, two new piers into the estuary for improved access to the growing areas, and a new septic system. An additional approximately 3,500 square feet of building space was also to be used by the shellfish operation as a new hatchery building. The Point Reyes National Seashore was the applicant for the permits issued for the project and the current PRNS Park Superintendent signed the permit documents. NEPA and CEQA evaluations of this project reported findings of no significant environmental impact (FONSI). Letters from the public during the environmental assessment agreed with the continuation of the oyster farming practices within the estuary. Unfortunately, the construction of the project was to be funded by the then current shellfish farmers, Johnson Oyster Company and the construction never commenced. This major development was planned and approved 20 years after the Point Reyes Wilderness Act of 1976.

Today, though the General Management Plan clearly supports the existence and continuation of the shellfish production in Drakes Estero, the Superintendent's position on oyster farming has changed. He has stated that when the current lease for shoreline use expires in 2012 it will not be renewed.

We believe the Drakes Bay Oyster Farm is an important part of the local community and the County of Marin, the San Francisco Bay Area and the state of California and closing the oyster farm would be a mistake. The Drakes Bay Oyster Farm:

  • is more than 50% of the leased aquaculture in the State of California,
  • provides jobs, housing, income, and is a significant part of the history and diversity of this thriving agricultural community,
  • produces an environmentally sustainable source of high-quality, locally marketed protein at a fraction of the carbon inputs of an average ranch and is a long-term carbon sink!
If you'd like to become part of our Oyster Action Corps to protect Drakes Bay Oyster Farm and aquaculture in California, drop us an email at oac@gstex.com so that we can contact you when we need your help with letter writing campaigns, etc.