Embattled Point Reyes oyster farm Drakes Bay Oyster Company technically has 10 days left before having to completely shut down and vacate Drakes Estero, but several local restaurants and an oyster distributor have just filed a last-minute lawsuit to stop the eviction.
The new suit, just one in a series of salvos in a seven-year battle over this oyster farm's right to stay put, contends that the decision by former Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar to allow the waters of Drakes Estero to revert to wilderness violates the 1980 National Aquaculture Act, as the Chron reports.
The argument may be kind of a stretch, since the Aquaculture Act was more just about Congress recognizing the need for more seafood-farming to satisfy the domestic demand for seafood, and doesn't address anything to do with federal wilderness. But the new lawsuit also argues that Department of the Interior failed to consult with the California Coastal Commission about the eviction of Drakes Bay, given that it affects coastal resources.
The suit was brought on Thursday by four local restaurants (Osteria Stellina, Cafe Reyes, Saltwater Oyster Depot, and SF's Hayes Street Grill) along with Tomales Bay Oyster Co., which has its own farm in Tomales Bay but says it buys 6,000 to 15,000 oysters a week from neighboring Drakes Bay Oyster Co. The language of the suit says that the farm is "a substantial and critical component of [the businesses'] locally harvested oyster supply," and a closure would result in "irreparable losses of business goodwill."
As of late June, a final appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was denied a hearing, which left in place an earlier ruling in federal court declaring the oyster farm's lease on federal seashore null and void, per an order from the Secretary of the Interior. The farm's 40-year lease in the waters near Point Reyes was up in 2012, and per a 1976 congressional wilderness designation was not permitted to be renewed.
It's been a long and complicated battle that has included arguments by environmentalists both pro and con regarding oyster farming in Drakes Bay, as well as a bill crafted by Dianne Feinstein as far back as 2009, trying to help the farm stay open.