December 3, 2012

“A TRAVESTY PERPETRATED BY THE GOVERNMENT:” U.S. evicting Point Reyes oyster farmer.

Kevin Lunny, a local rancher who bought the shellfish operation from Johnson Oyster Co. in 2004, said he was shocked when he got a call directly from Salazar on Thursday morning telling him that the 40-year occupancy agreement would not be renewed.

“It’s disbelief and excruciating sorrow,” he said of the mood at the oyster farm, where 30 people are employed, including seven families that live on the property.

“There are 30 people, all in tears this morning, who are going to lose their jobs and their homes,” Lunny said. “They are experts in seafood handling and processing in the last oyster cannery in California, and there is nowhere for them to go. . . .

Wade Childress, 59, of San Anselmo, was among the afternoon crowd who stopped by the Drakes Bay oyster shack after news spread that the doors would soon close. Childress said he came to the shack as a boy to eat oysters with his parents and later took his daughter for a tradition they called “seafood day.”
Oyster lovers shocked

“I’m mourning right now,” Childress said.

Other customers called it a travesty perpetrated by the government.

“This is a good organic food source in our backyard,” said Sarah Cane, 48, of San Rafael. “We can co-exist. A department head in Washington, D.C., shouldn’t be able to tell this community it can’t eat oysters.”

There were still unanswered questions as Lunny, his son, Sean, and daughter, Brigid, tried to comfort longtime customers. One was what Lunny is expected to do with the millions of oysters that are still in plastic grow bags in the bay, many of which won’t reach market size for another two years. The order requires him to immediately begin bringing them onshore.

“We’ve got 5 to 10 million juvenile oysters out there,” Lunny said. “So what do we do with these oysters, just kill them all? That would be forcing us to destroy the entire inventory, which has incredible financial consequences.”

Oh, well. America has more jobs than we know what to do with already! But I think that if “wilderness advocates” quoted in the story valued empty ocean more than an oyster farm, they should have paid him to stop, instead of getting the government to make him stop. But hey, that’s just me. The new way to get what you want is to have the state take it for you. It’s different from theft because there are uniforms and everything involved.