Drakes Bay Oyster Company announced it has settled its long-running lawsuit against the federal government. The legal agreement with the National Park Service, filed today, will allow the company to keep harvesting oysters until the end of 2014.
“We fought long and hard all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Along the way we stood up for family farms, for sustainable food, and for scientific integrity in government,” said Drakes Bay Oyster Company co-owners Joe, Kevin and Bob Lunny.
“At the end of the day, although we lost this battle, it was important for us to be a voice for justice for family farms,” the Lunnys added. “But we also respect the rule of law. Even though we believe we were right, as good and law-abiding Americans, we accept this decision and will now move on to other things.”
The Lunnys also have good news to announce. Having fallen in love with the sustainability, ecological contributions, and food value of oysters, the Lunnys are planning a new venture: Drakes Oyster House, a restaurant to be located at the Tomales Bay Resort in Inverness, California.
In addition, because restaurant owners recognize the Lunny’s commitment to quality and service, Drakes Bay will also continue distributing oysters. Hundreds of restaurants and markets around the San Francisco Bay Area will still be able to depend on Drakes Bay for their shellfish needs.
“This new venture will allow us to continue to provide jobs for many of our oyster workers while supporting other small family farms and fishermen in West Marin County,” said Kevin Lunny. “We are delighted that we will be able to continue to offer bags of oysters to our cherished Drakes Bay retail customers. And we are very excited about the opportunity to serve oysters and other fabulous local food at this stunning location on the water, with dining and decks overlooking beautiful Tomales Bay.”
Tomales Bay Resort owner Jeff Harriman said “I am thrilled to have the Lunnys bring the restaurant component to our five acre, 35 room resort and marina.”
“This is a great outcome,” said Corey Goodman, scientist, activist and Marshall rancher who advocated on behalf of DBOC. “The Lunnys remain in the community as vibrant members. Hopefully their new seafood restaurant thrives, and they continue in the oyster world. A good solution given a terrible court decision.”
Goodman is not completely at ease, however. “The worry of course is that the ranchers have bulls eyes on their back. The press release [from Environmental Action Committee of West Marin] makes it as clear as can be.”
The EAC press release passage he finds specifically worrisome is this: “Now we will be able to find out just what difference, if any, oysters really have, or whether, instead, what matters is controlling what flows into an estuary.”
Editor’s note: Amy Trainer, executive director of the EAC, sent this correction to the Citizen re: the EAC press release:
In the settlement agreement, the farm will be allowed to continue harvesting oysters until the end of the year. The National Park Service wants the oyster farm’s operations ended, and so the Park Service will be taking responsibility for removing all of the oyster-farming equipment and structures remaining in Drakes Estero. The Park Service has also pledged to provide relocation assistance to the company’s workers. The settlement agreement has been submitted to the federal district court for its formal approval.
“We’d like to thank our many friends and supporters, starting with Senator Dianne Feinstein and Marin County Supervisor Steve Kinsey. We are especially grateful for our employees, many of whom we hope will keep working with us as we move forward,” the Lunnys said.