Oyster Farm to Get 30 Days Notice of Closure

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - The government agreed to give an embattled oyster farm 30 days advance notice before it must shut down its operations.
     U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers gave preliminary approval last week to a stipulated briefing schedule for an action filed against the U.S. Department of the Interior on behalf of the Drakes Bay Oyster Company.
     Tomales Bay Oyster Co., the Alliance for Local Sustainable Agriculture, and several restaurants filed the federal suit in Oakland on July 17, seeking a temporary restraining order and an injunction to prevent the government from closing Drakes Bay Oyster Co. on July 31 this year.
     Among other things, the plaintiffs argued that the government wrongfully issued the November 2012 decision to close the oyster farm in violation of its statutory duties under the National Aquaculture Act, the California Coastal Management Program and the National Environmental Protection Act.
     Closing the Drakes Bay farm will cost local businesses thousands of dollars in lost profits, while the removal of oysters from the Drakes Estero will degrade water quality and cause other long-term environmental damage, according to the original complaint.
     Kevin Lunny, owner of Drakes Bay Oyster Co., had petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to renew his lease for the farm, which operates on federal land. But the Supreme Court rejected his appeal, as did the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, according to the San Francisco Gate.
     Settlement agreements in that case are currently under way. Conferences are scheduled for August 8 and August 11 and will be heard by U.S. Magistrate-Judge Donna M. Ryu, according to the stipulation.
     According to Thursday's agreement, Drakes Bay Oyster Company must close its retail operations by July 31, but will have thirty days after the court rules on the plaintiffs' motion for injunction before it must shut down permanently and remove its onshore and offshore property.
     As per the agreement, the Tomales Bay plaintiffs must withdraw their July 17 motion and file another action before July 31, while the government has until August 26 to file an opposition. A hearing for both matters is scheduled for September 9.