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Saturday, July 13, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Oyster Farm Asks Court to Keep It in Business

(CN) - A California man and his decades-old oyster farm want a temporary restraining order as they face an order from the federal government to shut down.

Kevin Lunny says he and his wife, Nancy, run Drakes Bay Oyster Co. on 1.5 acres of Drakes Estero in Point Reyes National Seashore, northwest of San Francisco. They bought the farm in 2004 from a company that cultivated oysters there since the 1950s.

Though they expected U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar to give the farm a special use permit once its 40-year Reservation of Use and Occupancy expired in November, Salazar instead gave the company 90 days to cease operations and move on. That period is set to expire Feb. 28, 2013.

Lunny says Salazar's decision relied on flawed science and inflated environmental problems predicted by the National Park Service.

In addition ending 85 years of oyster cultivation, closing Drakes Bay puts 31 people out of work and jeopardizes 40 percent of the California oyster supply, according to the complaint filed earlier this month.

In an ex parte application last week, Lunny and Drakes Bay say they need the temporary restraining because they cannot simultaneously comply with the decision while fighting it in court.

"Plaintiffs seek a temporary restraining order to prevent the immediate and irreparable loss of 2.5 million oyster spat (approximately 20-25 percent of its 2014 crop) and the corresponding immediate layoff of one-third of its employees, as well as to prevent the utter destruction of their business, harm to the public, and irreparable environmental damage to Drakes Estero in the next 90 days," the application states.

Drakes Bay lacks "the means to withstand the destruction of their business and to attempt to comply with defendants' unlawful and impossible orders, and still pursue adjudication of the merits of their case," it adds.

Amber Abbasi, of Cause of Action in Washington, D.C.; Wayne Rosenbaum and Ryan Waterman, of Stoel Rives, San Diego; John Briscoe, Lawrence Bazel and Peter Prows, of Briscoe Ivester & Bazel, in San Francisco; and Zack Walton, of SSL Law Firm, San Francisco, represent Drakes Bay.

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