OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) – A popular California oyster farm can keep harvesting and selling oysters until the end of the year, but no longer, under a settlement with the National Park Service.
Uncle Sam shut down Drakes Bay Oyster Co.’s retail and canning operations at the end of July, much to the disappointment of Bay Area shellfish lovers and local businesses that relied on the oyster farm.
The company produced nearly half of the state’s oyster supply, at Drakes Estero in Point Reyes National Seashore.
Drakes Bay has until Dec. 31 to “remove and dispose of all other shellfish” from the estero, according to a settlement approved by U.S. District Judge Yvonne Rogers Oct. 8.
The National Park Service agreed to remove oyster racks and the equipment used to cultivate shellfish at its own expense. The Park Service can start removing some onshore property immediately, allowing for speedy transition of Drakes Estero into a marine wilderness, the settlement says.
Drakes Bay Oyster Co. employees who live on site will get federal relocation benefits, and can remain on the land through next March, the settlement says.
Drakes Bay owner Kevin Lunny sued the government in 2012, taking the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which refused to intervene.
Lunny plans to open a restaurant called Drakes Oyster House at Tomales Bay Resort in Inverness, Calif.
“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,” Lunny said on the Drakes Bay’s website. “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.”
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