Header graphic for print

Food Safety News

Breaking news for everyone's consumption

Is a “Harmonic Convergence” Responsible for Saving Oysters in California?

A lifelong Marin County resident, Bob La Belle, thinks nothing short of a “harmonic convergence” may be responsible for saving that Drakes Bay oyster business that former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar tried to shut down.

It seems that since the oyster farm located at the Point Reyes National Seashore won an emergency injunction allowing it to stay open while contesting Salazar’s decision not to renew its lease, some other things have been happening. For example:

President Obama’s economic recovery plans actually “extoll establishing and restoring oyster beds to help sustain ecosystems,” La Belle wrote in a guest column for the Marion Independent Journal. That local newspaper also ran a front page story on how the National Parks Service contributes $445 million to the local economy through visitors “lodging, hiking, seeing elephant seals –and eating oysters.”

Then La Belle notes: “The Park Service’s own publication, ‘Stewardship Begins With People,‘ effectively and passionately embraces — and justifies — renewing Drakes Bay Oyster Co.’s lease.”

“And as it so advocates, the Park Service speaks directly to the validity and value of continued mixed use of Drakes Estero by our national treasure, Drakes Bay Oyster Co,” La Belle adds.

Since the 9th District Court of Appeals granted the emergency injunction alter finding there are “serious legal questions” about the Interior Department’s refusal to renew the leaser, owner Kevin Lunny has said he is now optimistic about saving oyster farm and the jobs that go with it.

Drakes Bay is the source of about 40 percent of California’s oysters. The 9th Circuit said “the balance of hardships tops sharply” in the oyster farms favor.

A current public health warning not to eat recreationally harvested mussels, clams or whole scallops in Marin County does not apply to commercially sold clams, mussels, scallops and oyster from approved sources including Drakes Bay.

California law permits only state-certified commercial shellfish harvesters or dealers to sell shellfish products, which are subject to frequent state mandatory testing.

© Food Safety News