The feds have spoken, and there will be no more oystering for 47-year-old Drakes Bay Oyster Company in Point Reyes. As we’ve reported a couple times this year, the company’s lease was set to expire tomorrow and the National Parks Service was doing an environmental review to determine whether or not to allow them to continue another ten years, or to convert the whole area around Drakes Estero into California’s first federally designated marine wilderness preserve.
It’s a pretty bay where Sir Francis Drake first landed ashore over 400 years ago, and as the Chron reports today, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar issued his decision today that the bay should be protected for future generations, and commercial oyster fishing should stop. He says he wants "to return the Drakes Estero to the state of wilderness that Congress designated for it in 1976." Point Reyes was deemed a national seashore park in 1962, however Drakes Bay Oyster Co.’s operations have been grandfathered in ever since, partly with the recent help of Senator Dianne Feinstein. Conservationists and environmental activists have long argued that the commercial operation was incongruous with the rest of the park, and have fought to get the oyster company’s permits revoked. They were, technically, fishing without a proper permit since 2007, though they still held the federal land lease.