Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Shell Recycling Growing Drakes Bay Oyster Farm Pot Still Boils

Participation in the Oyster Shell Recycling Program Continues to Grow

John Nagle, a seafood wholesaler has involved MOP in the Boston Seafood Festival and been a general supporter. The company has also put its intention into action by saving shell for recycling. Sunday we picked up a batch of shell which is in transit to our reprocessing facility.

oyster restoration supporter John Nagle Fish Wholesaler
Oyster Restoration Supporter and Shell Recycling Participant

John Nagle Co., a full-line wholesaler of fresh and frozen seafood, was founded in 1887 by John J. Nagle. Since then, four generations of the Nagle family have upheld their strong commitment to family traditions and values within the seafood industry. The founder’s great-grandson, Charles Nagle, is the company’s current president.

Drakes Bay Oyster Farm Pot Continues to Boil

It was disappointing when the National Parks Service issued an edict shutting down the Drakes Bay Oyster Farm putting 31 people out of work.  An oyster farm has minimal environmental impact and many benefits.  But the shut down is continuing to give other groups pause as it is establishing a precedent that could be applicable to agricultural usage of public lands across the west. Many farmers graze cattle on federal lands, if the Interior Department decides similarly that these lands should be returned to the pristine state, then they can unilaterally close other areas.

Part 1. Below is a letter from the California Farm Bureau Federation President.

President's message: Why the Drakes Bay Oyster case matters
Issue Date: March 20, 2013

Paul Wenger. President, CFBF

Last week, the California Farm Bureau Federation, the Marin County Farm Bureau and the Sonoma County Farm Bureau joined in a petition to a federal appeals court, urging the court to give the Drakes Bay Oyster Co. a new hearing—and a new chance to continue its sustainable aquaculture operation.

The company and its owners, Kevin and Nancy Lunny, carry on a decades-long tradition of mariculture in Drakes Estero. The oyster farming operation has been there since the 1930s—so long that few people remember the estero before the farm existed. It was there long before the Point Reyes National Seashore was established in 1960.

Despite a record as excellent stewards of the land and of the estero, the Lunnys and their farm face eviction. The National Park Service determined that the oyster farm had to go and pulled out all the stops in its efforts to evict the farm, even though its presence adds to the overall character of the area. The Lunnys, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Farm Bureau and other advocates have pointed out a long history of shoddy, slanted pseudo-science used by the Park Service in an effort to justify removing the oyster farm.

Despite protests from the West Marin community, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar decided last November that the farm would have to leave when its lease expired. Only a last-minute stay from a federal court last month allowed the Lunnys to remain in business, while the court considers their appeal.

If you've been following the case like I have, you know that Drakes Bay Oyster Co. is a prime example of the local, sustainable agriculture that many Bay Area residents prize. If you haven't been following the case, you might be surprised by the range of individuals, groups and organizations that joined together in the petition last week on behalf of the Lunnys.

Along with CFBF and the two county Farm Bureaus, the petitioners included famed Berkeley chef Alice Waters; the Hayes Street Grill, a fish restaurant in San Francisco; the Tomales Bay Oyster Co.; the Marin County agricultural commissioner; Food Democracy Now; Marin Organic; and the Alliance for Local Sustainable Agriculture. These folks may all come at this issue from different angles, but we end up at the same place: What's happening to the Drakes Bay Oyster Co. is wrong.
The petition was written by Judith Teichman, a San Francisco attorney who assembled the coalition favoring the farm's continued operation. It notes that closing down Drakes Estero as a source of fresh, sustainably raised shellfish would wreak havoc with the world-famous local, sustainable food and agriculture of the Bay Area. It would also disrupt shellfish cultivation on Tomales Bay. It would put 31 people out of work, some of whom have worked for the oyster farm for 30 years.

Closing the oyster company would also be a serious setback for modern environmental thinking, the petition says. Leading voices in the environmental movement have called for 21st century conservationists to embrace a more people-friendly ethic that supports working landscapes—just the sort of operation that Drakes Bay Oyster Co. represents. Old-fashioned environmental activists want to force people off the land, to return it to some sort of pre-human condition. That thinking leads to confrontation instead of collaboration, and to situations where progressive, thoughtful farmers and ranchers like the Lunnys get pushed aside because of someone's interpretation of the purity of nature.
For Farm Bureau, the case has implications beyond Drakes Estero.

Half of the land in California is owned by the federal or state government. Rural communities, where many Farm Bureau members live and work, depend on multiple use of these lands. National parks and wilderness areas operate under land-management rules that allow for human presence and use, even when the primary mandate is for preservation and environmental protection.

To ban an operation such as Drakes Bay Oyster Co. on the ideological belief that it should not exist in a national park or wilderness area—despite evidence that the farm provides important economic, cultural and social benefits—sets an awful precedent for everyone who believes that humans and nature can and must co-exist sustainably.

That's why Farm Bureau supports the Lunnys and Drakes Bay Oyster Co. If the bureaucrats and the kick-the-humans-out branch of environmentalism can run the Lunnys out, you can bet they'll keep trying to throttle more wise uses of taxpayer-owned lands.

That narrow, preservationist vision never worked and doesn't now. The appeals court will hear the oyster farm's case in May, and we hope it will restore common sense to the management of the Point Reyes National Seashore.

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm BureauFederation when reprinting this item.

Part 2. Washington Getting Involved

Politicians are noticing that the bureaucracy may have deviated from popular opinion in the Drakes Bay situation and are getting involved. Ironically, a provision that would allow for the oyster farm to continue operation for 20 years has been embedded into a bill that is generally not environmentally friendly.The following article was published in the online version of the Santa Rosa, California Press Democrat.  The parent of today's Press Democrat, was begun in 1857, just three years after Santa Rosa was chosen as the seat of Sonoma County and seven years after California became a part of the United States.

A Republican bill in Congress intended to boost jobs and tax revenue through expanded offshore oil drilling, approval of the Keystone XL pipeline and other measures also would allow Drakes Bay Oyster Co. to stay in business, saving 30 jobs on the Marin County coast.
Sen. David Vitter, R-La., who introduced the legislation in the Senate, said in a written statement that it would create 2 million jobs and generate more than $2 trillion in federal taxes over the next 30 years by "increasing access to our domestic resources."Vitter's measure would open closed areas of the continental shelf to oil and gas leasing, allow energy development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and expedite approval of the $7 billion pipeline carrying Canadian heavy crude oil to Gulf Coast refineries.
The final section of the bill, titled the Energy Production and Project Delivery Act of 2013, would grant the oyster company in the Point Reyes National Seashore a permit for up to 20 years.
It also says that the 2,500-acre estero "shall not be converted to a designated wilderness," apparently reversing the intent established by Congress in 1976. 

Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, whose district includes Point Reyes, called the bill "an environmental wrecking ball." Huffman, who sits on the House Natural Resources Committee, noted that the bill also would prohibit California from limiting Central Valley Project water deliveries based on the Endangered Species Act. Huffman said he found it "pretty surprising" that the oyster company's permit was included in a bill focused on much larger issues.
Kevin Lunny, operator of the embattled oyster farm on Drakes Estero, said Thursday that he did not ask for and was not advised of the bill's reference to his permit, a source of controversy for years in Marin County.
"It's what members of Congress do, I guess," Lunny said. "We didn't know it was coming."
Lunny is fighting in federal court a National Park Service order to shut down his business, which harvests $1.5 million worth of oysters a year from the estero.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed to hear his appeal the week of May 13. His case is being handled without charge by a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit, Cause of Action, whose executive director previously worked for a charitable foundation run by one of the billionaire Koch brothers, known for their conservative politics. Legal experts say the oyster farm case could set a precedent that promotes commercial use of national parks and wilderness areas throughout the western United States.
Huffman, a former environmental attorney, said that the Vitter bill and its backers are "bad company for Kevin and his supporters to keep." Co-sponsored by 22 other Republican senators, Vitter's bill is backed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Western Business Roundtable, Americans for Limited Government and Americans for Prosperity.

"The whole bill is terrible," said Amy Trainer, executive director of the Environmental Action Committee of West Marin, which has fought to remove the oyster farm from the Pacific Ocean estuary that is abundant in wildlife, including a harbor seal colony. Trainer and Huffman said the bill might win approval in the Republican-controlled House but not the Senate. Their concern is that some provisions might be separately tacked onto "must-pass" pieces of legislation.
Lunny said most of his support over the years has come from North Bay Democrats who favor sustainable agriculture.
"I've never had support from the Republicans," he said.

Lunny said he does not agree with all of the provisions in Vitter's bill, which was introduced in the House by Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, chairman of the House Natural Resources Public Lands and Environmental Regulation subcommittee.

You can reach Staff Writer Guy Kovner at  guy.kovner@pressdemocrat.com.

No comments:

Post a Comment