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Drakes Bay Oyster Company left high and dry

Longtime seafood supplier in Marin County forced to close

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Posted: Wednesday, December 5, 2012 11:44 am | Updated: 11:47 am, Wed Dec 5, 2012.

The Drakes Bay Oyster Company’s operating permit was allowed to expire last week, forcing the closure of the Marin County seafood powerhouse after 40 years of business.

United States Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced the decision not to renew the permit last Thursday.

“After careful consideration of the applicable law and policy, I have directed the National Park Service to allow the permit for the Drakes Bay Oyster Company to expire at the end of its current term and to return the Drakes Estero to the state of wilderness that Congress designated for it in 1976,” Salazar said. “I believe it is the right decision for Point Reyes National Seashore and for future generations who will enjoy this treasured landscape.”

Kevin Lunny, owner of the oyster company, spoke out against Salazar’s decision, calling the decision “a devastating blow to the West Marin economy and community.

“I had to deliver the news to our 30 workers that the Secretary of the Interior has decided to put them out of work and out of their homes,” he said. “Many of them are highly skilled workers who have been here 30 years.”

Some of Lunny’s workers live on the company site and will be forced to vacate the premises.

Lunny acquired the business from the Johnson Oyster Company in 2004. When he obtained the business, it had a 40-year permit to operate through Nov. 30, 2012. Lunny was seeking a 10-year extension of the permit when Salazar announced his decision.

U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein have each weighed in on the decision that was handed down last week, though they opted for opposing sides.

“I am extremely disappointed that Secretary Salazar chose not to renew the operating permit for Drakes Bay Oyster Company,” Feinstein announced on her website.

“The National Parks Service’s review process has been flawed from the beginning with false and misleading science.”

Boxer, however, said she respects Salazar’s decision.

“Preserving this area fulfills Congress’ promise to all Americans when it passed the Point Reyes Wilderness Act,” Boxer said.

“The National Park Service rightly concluded in its study that the oyster factory is damaging the national park.”

Bay City News contributed to this report.

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