08-14-14 DBOC’s Opposition to Ca Coastal Commission Motion for New Trial

Please find attached the following documents filed in Marin Superior Court today:
–          Drakes Bay Oyster Company’s Opposition to Motion for New Trial; 8.14.14+Final+Opposition+to+Motion+for+New+Trial+120pm
–          Declaration of Phyllis Faber ISO Drakes Bay Opposition to Motion for A New Trial; 8.14.14+Faber+decl+ISO+opp+to+new+trial+motion
–          Declaration of Larry Giambastiani ISO Drakes Bay; 8.14.14+Decl+of+Larry+Giambastiani
–          Declaration of Peter Prows ISO Drakes Bay’s Opposition to Commission’s Motion for New Trial; 8.14.14+Prows+decl+ISO+opp+to+new+trial+motion

Sunday 8-24-14 SHUCK FOR SHELTER – Benefit for workers of DBOC at Fish in Sausalito



Dear Diners and Culinary Adventurers,

As of July 31, Drakes Bay Oyster Company, the last oyster cannery in the State of California, was forced to close by order of the NPS and Department of the Interior. As the shucking and packing building was being lifted from the ground and put onto a transport trailer for removal, the oyster shuckers and packers realized that their lives were forever changed. Some have worked here on the farm for 30 years and are valued members of this rural community.  Currently Drakes is only able to continue to harvest the oysters in Drakes Estero for the wholesale market, but as that comes to an end, all of the oystermen and women will lose their jobs and homes. Their families will be uprooted.

Stag Dining alongside Fine & Rare and the Carneros Wine Alliance, are hosting a benefit event for the workers of Drakes at FISH in Sausalito. This event will help raise money for the families of Drakes Bay Oyster Company. We invite you to celebrate the culinary contributions that this historic company helped weave into the fabric of the culinary landscape of the Bay Area for decades.

Raw Bar 

Bbq oysters/ crispy chicken skin,”red hot”, celery leaf
Broiled Oyster Dynamite/ shrimp, togarashi, ginger, japanese herbs
Smoked Oyster & Beef Tartare/ pickled watermelon, dehydrated tomato, onion rings

Oyster Gumbo/ andouille sausage, heirloom peppers 
Oyster Po’Boy Sliders/ brioche bun, jalapeño slaw, local tomatoes
Click here to purchase tickets

Sunday, August 24th, 2014

Time: 2pm-5pm

$75* per person

21 and over

Price includes food and beverages

This event is a cocktail style party.

* A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the workers of Drakes Bay Oyster Company. Additional raffle items and rare wines will be auctioned off as well. 

350 Harbor Drive Sausalito, CA. 94965

Fish. is proud to be completely dedicated to sustainable seafood and organic produce, bought locally from the people who work so hard to bring the season’s best to our doors. We grill our food over a wood fire, drink our wine from simple glasses, and think a day spent fishing isn’t a bad way to spend a day. 

Participating Wineries

– Bouchaine 

A special thank you to


08-07-14 Pt Reyes Light, Our choice: A living seashore or a silent landscape

Our choice: A living seashore or a silent landscape


Friday’s closing ceremony for Drakes Bay Oyster Company felt like a wake for someone still living. Or had that person died? None of the people gathered on the shores of the estuary seemed to know, and Drakes Estero herself was silent, if you hoped for an answer there. The succession of speakers who braced against the cold gusts rolling in off the ocean each shared their own emotional mixture: a funny combination of denial, defiance and resignation, as an NPR reporter described it, a cocktail the whole crowd seemed to be drinking. Since I did not (and do not) know if the fight is over—if the oyster farm still has a sliver of a chance at remaining in its nearly century-old home, or if the oysters themselves have a chance at a new iteration there or elsewhere—I spoke about what I do know.

First, Kevin and Nancy Lunny are remarkable people. They are not only first-rate oyster growers and stewards of the land and waters, but they have personally borne the burden of a battle for a holistic vision of the Point Reyes National Seashore. They have demonstrated heroic courage and generosity. And they’ve given many others a chance to be heroic in their own right, as friends, organizers, researchers, scientists and lawyers. In the repeated utterance that this episode has divided West Marin, maybe another truth is overlooked: that it has made many of us stronger through the articulation of our values. Still, the last several years have polarized us, and both sides feel battered. There will be no quick reconciliation or healing.

In part, that’s because the battle over the oyster farm continues as a larger struggle to define the future character of our seashore. The ranchers association, galvanized by the Lunnys’ fight, now has a persuasive and unified vision. It is one that restores the working landscape in what they call a return to Shafter-era agriculture. In the last half of the nineteenth century, Point Reyes was the state’s artichoke capital; farmers raised pigs, chickens, turkeys and sheep alongside cattle and the dairy ranchers had their own butter label. In the 21st century, the peninsula could again accommodate row crops and diverse livestock; ranching families, if allowed to build processing facilities, develop worker housing, and sell their wares, could present visitors to Point Reyes with salmon, halibut, crab and oysters; eggs, milk, yogurt, cheeses and butter; flowers and vegetables; preserves, yarns and so much more. Developing this economy would keep longtime agricultural families intact, with the rising generation building on the wisdom of their parents and grandparents. It would also provide jobs and model the kinds of economic resilience, food security, cooperative conservation and climate-responsive environmental practices we need to develop in our rapidly changing world.

From the John Sansing era, when the seashore’s historic structures were bulldozed on a whim, to the Don Neubacher era, when entire herds of deer were slaughtered (and the meat thrown away) only because they were non-native, we could arrive at a more balanced and forward-thinking era. But that can only happen with a good leader. Ever since its last leader left amid the embarrassment of the oyster-farm debacle, the seashore has been adrift. Cicely Muldoon has hidden behind the excuse of Washington: she is hamstrung, she is powerless. Her staff is crippled by gag orders; in the eyes of much of the public, their work is neither held accountable nor free of an overarching bias. The administration hunkers down under scrutiny rather than stepping up and opening up. And this in a place where people are informed, willingly engaged and conservation-minded. We are scientists, naturalists, farmers, gardeners, defenders of wildlife, historians, educators, activists, artists and storytellers. We are a tremendous resource, the ideal place for the National Park Service to practice its own principles and policies of cooperative conservation, and yet we are left out. The public process involved in planning and environmental reviews feels like a charade. We are directly impacted neighbors, yet we are told our opinions matter no more than those of any other Americans. But that vast demographic is influenced by the propaganda sent out by the Environmental Action Committee and the Sierra Club, organizations that have grown reckless.

So this is where all oyster farm supporters should redouble their efforts: In effecting change in our local park administration. There should be a resurrection of the citizen’s advisory committee or some version of it; there should be meetings where both park service officials and the public can actually speak and listen to each other. There should be transparency, accountability and feedback loops in the planning and execution of projects, from the removal of dune grass to the management of elk. The ranchers should be dealt with as a unified association; their detailed letters, full of concrete proposals, deserve responses. And isn’t their vision competitive with that of wilderness advocates—the latter’s being a vacated park, a postcard for the 2.6 million visitors to view through their windshields? The choice between a living, breathing seashore and a ghost park sure feels these days like an urgent one.



04-14-14 Videos originally aired on Marin TV RE: DBOC, by Peggy Day of “Seriously Now”

Peggy Day, Producer of Seriously Now on Marin TV has posted to Vimeo 8 programs on aired on the DBOC story.

Please click on or copy and paste into your web browser the link below to watch them. You will need to scroll down the page and / or click next to view all the videos posted to the YouTube channel.


04-14-14 Drakes Bay Oyster Files Petition for Writ of Certiorari in U.S. Supreme Court

April 14, 2014

 Contacts: Tina Walker

Office: 415.227.9700

Cell: 650.248.1037

Email: tina@singersf.com


Peter Prows

Counsel for Drakes Bay Oyster

Email: pprows@briscoelaw.net



 Drakes Bay Oyster Files Petition for Writ of Certiorari in U.S. Supreme Court

Petition asks high court to review Ninth Circuit decision

INVERNESS, CALIF. — Drakes Bay Oyster Company has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari to review the judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in its case.


At issue is former Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar’s denial of Drakes Bay’s permit to continue operating the 80-year-old oyster farm, even though the original deal for the creation of Point Reyes National Seashore—supported by the Park Service, the Sierra Club, the Environmental Action Committee of West Marin, and every other interested environmental and civic group—was that the oyster farm was always supposed to stay.  The Ninth Circuit held that a federal court does not have jurisdiction to review a discretionary agency decision for abuse of discretion.  At stake is whether the government, in making countless everyday decisions, can be taken to court when it abuses its power.


“If this judgment is not overturned, government agencies will have the power to deny a permit to any individual or business for any reason, without judicial review,” said Kevin Lunny, owner of Drakes Bay Oyster Company.  “Citizens must have recourse in the face of an arbitrary and capricious decision.”


The small, family-owned farm has been in a heated legal battle with federal regulators for its survival.  Because Drakes Bay showed that there is a “reasonable probability” that the Supreme Court will take this case and a “significant possibility” that the oyster farm will win, the Ninth Circuit has allowed Drakes Bay to remain open while it takes its case to the Supreme Court.


One reason the Supreme Court might want to hear the case is to resolve fifteen circuit splits on three issues—that is, issues on which two or more circuits in the U.S. court of appeals system have given different interpretations of federal law. The splits in this case are on important issues:  jurisdiction to review agency actions for abuse of discretion, applicability of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and prejudicial error under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). Read the Petition for Writ of Certiorarihere.


About Drakes Bay Oyster Company

The historic oyster farm in Drakes Estero, located in Point Reyes, Marin County, has been part of the community for nearly 100 years. The Lunnys, a fourth-generation Point Reyes ranching family, purchased the oyster farm in 2004. Modern environmentalists and proponents of sustainable agriculture praise Drakes Bay Oyster as a superb example of how people can produce high-quality food in harmony with the environment. The farm produces approximately one third of all oysters grown in California, and employs 30 members of the community. The Lunnys also contribute the oyster shells that make possible the restoration of native oysters in San Francisco Bay and the oyster shells used to create habitat for the endangered Snowy Plover and Least Tern. As the last oyster cannery in California, Drakes Bay is the only local (and thus the only safe and affordable) source of these shells. The Lunny family is proud of its contributions to a sustainable food model that conserves and maintains the productivity of the local landscapes and the health of its inhabitants. For more information, please visit www.drakesbayoyster.com and www.savedrakesbay.com


04-14-14 US Supreme Court Cert Petition Press Release With Links

06-05-13 Attorney Peter Prows Letter to the editor Sacramento Bee

Citizens commission supported oyster farming at Point Reyes

Published: Wednesday, Jun. 5, 2013 – 10:03 am

Re “Oyster farm tries end run on wilderness pact” (Another View, May 26): Amy Meyer, former vice-chairwoman of the Citizens’ Advisory Commission for Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Point Reyes National Seashore, suggests that the citizens commission supported an “agreement” from the 1970s that the oyster farm in Drakes Estero would leave in 2012.

But Meyer neglects to mention one key fact: The citizens commission actually supported continued oyster farming in Drakes Estero in perpetuity. In 1976, the commission’s chairman, Frank Boerger, wrote to Congress explaining the oyster farm is “considered desirable by both the public and park managers”, and that the farm should “continue unrestrained by wilderness designation.”

Meyer is certainly entitled to change her opinion of the oyster farm, but she can’t change the historical facts.

— Peter Prows, San Francisco, attorney for Drakes Bay Oyster Co.


06-04-2013 Fort Mill Times Sonoma City Council Calls for Investigation into NPS closure of DBOC

Sonoma City Council Signs Resolution Calling for Investigation into National Park Service Request for Closure of Drakes Bay Oyster Company

Sonoma City Council Supports Drakes Bay Oyster Company’s Efforts Towards Providing Local Jobs and Its Model for Sustainable Agriculture

Fort Mill Times, June 4, 2013

SONOMA, Calif. —

In a unanimous decision at last night’s City Council meeting, the Sonoma City Council approved a resolution that formally offers the Council’s support to save Drakes Bay Oyster Company and calls for the investigation into the National Park Service’s denial of Drakes’ permit to continue to operate at the onshore facilities at Drakes Estero in the coastal area of Marin County. In particular, the City Council commended the oyster farm for its efforts in maintaining its environmental and agricultural stewardship which presents an exemplary model of harmonious co-existence of sustainable agriculture and resource conservation.

The City Council specifically called on Assembly Member Marc Levine, Chair of the Select Agriculture and Environment Committee, to urge the State of California to assert its rights to continue to lease the water bottoms in Drakes Estero for shellfish cultivation which would include giving support to the Fish and Game Commission in its full jurisdiction. Additionally, the City Council requested Congressman Jared Huffman to support a bi-partisan Congressional investigation by the appropriate House Committee of Natural Resources, which he is a member of, into the questionable science that informed Secretary Salazar’s decision not to grant Drakes Bay a permit for the facilities in Drakes Estero.

For years, the Lunny family, who owns and manages the historic oyster farm and the last cannery in California, has been fighting the Interior Department and the National Park Service over their attempts to close down the farm. In a decision made last November, then-Interior Secretary Ken Salazar refused to issue a permit to allow Drakes Bay to continue farming upon the expiration of its 40-year-lease – a lease which allowed it to operate on public land within the Point Reyes National Seashore and which was created decades after the oyster farm’s inception.

“We are thrilled and honored to have the support of the Sonoma City Councilmembers,” says Kevin Lunny. “The next several weeks are an important time for our community, as we continue to build support and make our voices heard throughout Marin County, the state of California, and the country. With the support of the Councilmembers and thousands of community members, we will continue to fight to keep our historic, family-owned and community-loved oyster farm open.”

The Lunnys, who have been pressing for an extension of their lease for years, state that Salazar based his decision on flawed environmental impact studies and contend that the State, not the National Park Service, retains the right to farm shellfish in Drakes Estero and they have already extended that agreement until 2029.

Drakes Bay has already garnered the support of many individuals and organizations within the community who view the farm as a respected steward of the land and representative of the best in environmental protection. Supporters of the Save Drakes Bay Oyster Farm include California Senator Dianne Feinstein, a group of restaurant owners and sustainable food advocates, including Alice Waters of Chez Panisse, as well as many leading scientists and environmentalists throughout the Bay Area. For a full list of Drakes Bay’s 2,000+ supporters please visitwww.drakesbayoyster.com/howtohelp/endorse.php.

About Drakes Bay Oyster Company

Oyster farming in Drakes Estero, located in Point Reyes, Marin County, has been part of the region’s history for nearly 100 years. The Lunnys, a fourth-generation ranching family, purchased Drakes Bay in 2004 to revive a historical part of the local community and ensure the continued environmental health of Drakes Estero. Drakes Bay currently employs nearly 30 community members, and farms sustainably in Drakes Estero, producing approximately one-third of all oysters in California. The Lunny family works hard to participate in keeping the agricultural economic system in West Marin alive. Drakes Bay actively participates in the creation of a more sustainable food model that restores, conserves, and maintains the productivity of the local landscapes and the health of its inhabitants. For more information, please visit www.drakesbayoyster.com.


04-08-13: Marin IJ VA Marine Resources Comm. begins largest oyster replenishment program

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission will begin the largest oyster replenishment program in the state’s history. The $2 million effort will plant oyster shells on state-owned beds in the James, the York, the Rappahannock and other places in the bay to create habitats conducive to the nourishment of oysters. Gov. Bob McDonnell asked for the appropriation; the General Assembly approved his request. The 2013 assembly session proved an excellent one for the bay.

Recent years have reported gratifying news regarding the bay’s oysters, which are staging a comeback. Aquaculture is thriving in the bay and along its tributaries. Smart policies by the state and by private concerns contribute to the restoration. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation has been an effective advocate for the bivalves. A healthy bay produces flourishing oyster populations; flourishing oyster populations promote the bay’s health.

Editorial: And so to beds

Posted: Monday, April 8, 2013 12:00 am

In “Consider the Oyster,” M.F.K Fisher wrote: “An oyster leads a dreadful but exciting life.” May and the succeeding months will see great excitement in the Chesapeake. The results will not be dreadful.

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission will begin the largest oyster replenishment program in the state’s history. The $2 million effort will plant oyster shells on state-owned beds in the James, the York, the Rappahannock and other places in the bay to create habitats conducive to the nourishment of oysters. Gov. Bob McDonnell asked for the appropriation; the General Assembly approved his request. The 2013 assembly session proved an excellent one for the bay.

After attaching themselves to the shells, oyster larvae will grow to market size in about three years. They then will delight gourmets in stews, pan roasts and other dishes. Oysters on the half shell remain the ultimate expression of the gastronomic arts.

Recent years have reported gratifying news regarding the bay’s oysters, which are staging a comeback. Aquaculture is thriving in the bay and along its tributaries. Smart policies by the state and by private concerns contribute to the restoration. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation has been an effective advocate for the bivalves. A healthy bay produces flourishing oyster populations; flourishing oyster populations promote the bay’s health.

The editor of the Editorial Pages spent Easter weekend in Boston, where he enjoyed a late lunch at B&G Oysters, which offers a dozen different oysters at every seating. The Saturday lunch list included not only varieties from New England and the Canadian Maritimes (the Ninigrets from Rhode Island took honors, as they usually do) but also Chincoteagues. The dinner selections included oysters from the James. On March 31, Jax Fish House in Denver celebrated Oyster Month with a feast featuring oysters from Rappahannock River Oysters, whose owners, Ryan and Travis Croxton, attended the festivities. The cousins entertained diners with stories about their family trade. The good word has spread.

The VMRC initiative will build on a firm foundation. The seeding of the beds will put into motion one of the wonders of our world. Infant oysters are called spats, whose lives Fisher described in delicious prose:

“It is to be hoped, sentimentally at least, that the spat – our spat – enjoys himself. Those two weeks are his one taste of vagabondage, of devil-may-care free roaming. And even they are not quite free, for during all his youth he is busy growing a strong foot and a large supply of sticky cement-like stuff. If he thought, he might wonder why.”

We will take a dozen dressed with lemon and washed down with a Virginia white. And we wish we could add a B&G lobster roll and round out the meal with the eatery’s poached pear.

02-25-13 Order Granting Injunction Pending Appeal and Expediting Calendaring


Click on the above link or just read what was copied and pasted below:

Plaintiffs – Appellants,
KENNETH L. SALAZAR, in his official
capacity as Secretary, U.S. Department of
the Interior; et al.,
Defendants – Appellees.
No. 13-15227
D.C. No. 4:12-cv-06134-YGR
Northern District of California,
Before: GOODWIN, WARDLAW, and MURGUIA, Circuit Judges.
This is a preliminary injunction appeal.
The court grants the motion of Environmental Action Committee of West
Marin, National Parks Conservation Association, Natural Resources Defense
Council, and Save Our Seashore for leave to file an amici curiae response in
opposition to the emergency motion for injunction pending appeal. The Clerk shall
file the amici curiae opposition submitted on February 19, 2013. If these entities
seek leave to file an amici curiae brief on the merits of this appeal, a separate
motion is required.
FEB 25 2013
Case: 13-15227 02/25/2013 ID: 8524948 DktEntry: 22 Page: 1 of 2
The court grants appellants’ request to file a response to the amici curiae
opposition. The Clerk shall file the response submitted by appellants on February
21, 2013.
Appellants’ emergency motion for an injunction pending appeal is granted,
because there are serious legal questions and the balance of hardships tips sharply
in appellants’ favor. See Alliance for the Wild Rockies v. Cottrell, 632 F.3d 1127,
1131-35 (9th Cir. 2011).
The court sua sponte expedites the calendaring of this preliminary injunction
appeal. The Clerk shall calendar this case during the week of May 13-17, 2013 in
San Francisco.
The briefing schedule established previously shall remain in effect.
Case: 13-15227 02/25/2013 ID: 8524948 DktEntry: 22 Page: 2 of 2

11-08-2012 Save Drakes Bay Oyster Farm Video and Petition

To access this three minute video and the petition to Save Drakes Bay Oyster Farm, please click on the link below or copy and paste it into your web browser.

Save Drakes Bay Oyster Farm 3 minute video and Petition 11-08-2012

Meet the Oyster Girls – Petaluma, CA Patch

Merging sex appeal and locally-harvested oysters, Petaluma residents Aluxa and Jazmine Lalicker want to educate Sonoma County gourmands about why the mollusk is not only tasty, but also good for the environment.

Four years ago, Aluxa Lalicker was working as a sea kayak guide in Tomales Bay, when she started bringing oysters along on her trips and serving them to her guests.

The treats were a hit, and lo and behold, a new business was born.

Today Lalicker is part of the Petaluma-basedThe Oyster Girls, a traveling oyster bar that is injecting femininity into a culinary sub-culture dominated by men.

“People think that oysters are dirty and hard to open, but that’s not true,” says the 30-year-old Lalicker. “It’s all about the technique.”

Lalicker runs the business with her 23-year-old sister Jazmine and their mom, often assisted by a group of girlfriends, serving up the tasty mollusks at Sonoma County wineries, galas, weddings and other events.

Often wearing dresses and high heels, the Lalicker girls ooze sex appeal that’s become part of their brand. (Their business card features a pin-up girl sitting inside an oyster shell.)

But they’re a lot more than just pretty faces.

The Lalickers take the time to travel to local oyster farms (Tomales Bay Oyster Company and Drakes Bay Oyster Company), going out on small motorboats to pick up the product, bring it back to land and spray wash it before taking it to a party.

“We don’t get paid for that part of the job, but we wanted to create that farm to table experience,” says Jazmine Lalicker. “It’s an important part of our business.”

For the full article, click on the link below:

Meet the Oyster Girls – Petaluma, CA Patch.

10-30-2012 An Oyster in the Storm – NYTimes.com

“…as Hurricane Sandy bears down on me, I find I’m desperately missing one thing.

I wish I had some oysters.

I’m not talking about oysters to eat — although a dozen would be nice to go with that leftover bottle of Champagne that I really should drink if the fridge goes off. I’m talking about the oysters that once protected New Yorkers from storm surges, a bivalve population that numbered in the trillions and that played a critical role in stabilizing the shoreline from Washington to Boston.

Generation after generation of oyster larvae rooted themselves on layers of mature oyster shells for more than 7,000 years until enormous underwater reefs were built up around nearly every shore of greater New York.

Just as corals protect tropical islands, these oyster beds created undulation and contour on the harbor bottom that broke up wave action before it could pound the shore with its full force. Beds closer to shore clarified the water through their assiduous filtration (a single oyster can filter as much as 50 gallons of water a day); this allowed marsh grasses to grow, which in turn held the shores together with their extensive root structure.

But 400 years of poor behavior on the part of humans have ruined all that. As Mark Kurlansky details in his fine book “The Big Oyster,” during their first 300 years on these shores colonists nearly ate the wild creatures out of existence. We mined the natural beds throughout the waterways of greater New York and burned them down for lime or crushed them up for road beds.

Once we’d hurled all that against the wild New York oyster, baymen switched to farming oysters. But soon New Yorkers ruined that too. Rudimentary sewer systems dumped typhoid- and cholera-carrying bacteria onto the beds of Jamaica Bay. Large industries dumped tons of pollutants like PCBs and heavy metals like chromium into the Hudson and Raritan Rivers, rendering shellfish from those beds inedible. By the late 1930s, oysters in New York and all the benefits they brought were finished.

Fortunately, the New York oyster is making something of a comeback. Ever since the Clean Water Act was passed in the 1970s, the harbor’s waters have been getting cleaner, and there is now enough dissolved oxygen in our waterways to support oyster life. In the last 10 years, limited sets of natural oyster larvae occurred in several different waterways that make up the Greater New York Bight.

Alongside nature’s efforts, a consortium of human-run organizations that include the Hudson River Foundation, New York-New Jersey Bay Keeper, the Harbor School and even the Army Corps of Engineers have worked together to put out a handful of test reefs throughout the Bight.

For the full article click on the link below:

via An Oyster in the Storm – NYTimes.com.

10-18-2012 Hit Piece misrepresents invasive, at fault: Marin IJ and Santa Rosa Press Dem

An article declaring the threat of a “newly discovered” invasive species in Drakes Estero, published in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat and reprinted in the Marin Independent Journal this week, appears to be yet another hit piece churned out by wilderness advocates in the weeks leading up to the expiration of Drakes Bay Oyster Company’s lease.



Article misrepresents invasive


An article declaring the threat of a “newly discovered” invasive species in Drakes Estero, published in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat and reprinted in the Marin Independent Journal this week, appears to be yet another hit piece churned out by wilderness advocates in the weeks leading up to the expiration of Drakes Bay Oyster Company’s lease. In the article, titled “Nasty invasive species turns up in Drakes Estero,” Amy Trainer, executive director of the Environmental Action Committee, described the discovery of the species “a very serious matter” and Rick Johnson of the Marin Audubon Society called on the seashore to “nip this in the bud.”


The species is Didemnum vexillumn, a tunicate that forms yellow blankets over subtidal hard substrate and has long been known to colonize oysters growing in the estero. Didemnum has been known to Point Reyes National Seashore scientists since 2005, when the University of California, Davis conducted a study of the estero on the seashore’s behalf; the species has been part of the debate over aquaculture in Drakes Estero since 2007, when a seashore scientist wrote about it in this newspaper.


At the time, Andy Cohen, director of the biological invasions program at the San Francisco Estuary Institute, told that Light that since the bottom of the estero is soft sand and mud, the organism is more likely to affect the oysters than any other marine life. Dr. Mary Carman, who researches didemnum at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, said the organism does not successfully grow on eelgrass. It can cling to eelgrass blades for about 10 days before sloughing off, she said, becausethe grass secretes a protective acid. She has never known the tunicate to harm eelgrass in the wild, she added. According to the Department of Fish and Game, eelgrass acreage has doubled in the estero over the last 20 years.

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