I've posted on the Drakes Bay Oyster Company before, here, explaining the situation and the National Park Service's environmental impact statement and public scope on whether or not to renew DBOC's lease. However, until I went to the public scope open house last night at Fort Mason, I had no idea what a David vs. Goliath situation it truly was.
NPS has gathered data to support their motive of closing DBOC and suppressed data that does not favor their agenda. They then presented this data, with the help of outside consultation, in an incredibly biased fashion. These "consultants," cute little librarian-esk mercenaries, walked around the public scope the entire night, giving figures on the adverse environmental impact DBOC has had and refuting any figures that DBOC proponents had. Unbiased public forum? I think not. This consultation company was paid, by the NPS, to help achieve its clear goal of closing DBOC. Basically, federal funding that should be going to park restoration and management projects, did not. Rather, it went to a company hired to consult on which best way to publicly smear the DBOC.
Second, the language presented to the public in the brief statements of policy if DBOC were to remain open gave the illusion of DBOC's request for expansion. Each option stated "the DBOC can harvest no more than 500,000 to 700,000 tons of shellfish per year, a 10%-30% increase on the 2010 harvest." So, an individual reading each one of these three statements, walked away with the notion that no matter what, DBOC will get bigger if it remains open. The Lunny family has never requested to expand, simply maintain their operation. Given the current and proposed regulations on the DBOC, they would never even be able to achieve these numbers. Yet, the attendees simply saw "expansion into more of the Point Reyes park."
Third, when I addressed the allegations of data suppression by NPS scientists with an NPS representative, he continued to skirt around the issue, going into over-my-head specifics of data collection methods and scientific procedure. After about five minutes of this, I simply stated "how can I trust the validity of any data the NPS collected, or did not collect, on this issue when it is clear that the scientists had a motive and end goal of closing DBOC." He responded by saying only one scientist was in question and the Department of the Interior found there to be poor and sloppy data collection, but no misconduct. I simply said "well only one scientist got caught." Perhaps not a fair response, but you have to admit, being such a hot button issue, you really have to question the integrity of the whole operation with these allegations of misconduct on the table.
Lastly, people kept questioning what sort of precedent NPS would set if it allowed the DBOC to continue operating. Interesting. The SUP Public Law 111-88 for DBOC, posted at the front of the meeting, explicitly stated that it shall not be used as precedent in any future NPS proceedings or decisions. However, when people asked the question of precedent, none of the cute little consulting hit-men, or hit-women I should say, mentioned a thing. But if someone asked questions on DBOC's valuable contribution to the growing seafood demand of the Bay Area, they were more than happy to throw production figures at you stating that DBOC's absence will be easily made up for by Tomales Bay production. I'll let you be the judge of this one. Curious, to say the least.
The list of atrocities I saw at this meeting could go on and on. The use of the word "potential" vs. the use of the word "evidence" in the actual environmental impact statement, the question of food production and water consumption, the physical layout of issues addressed in the drafting of the statement. It was a public flogging of the DBOC with a sort of "hide the ball" move on the benefits of the company.
In conclusion, my opinion is that closing the DBOC would be no less than draconian environmentalism, admitting that we should separate ourselves from nature rather than coexist as stewards of it. The DBOC is a sustainable, family-run aquaculture farm that exemplifies what a true relationship with nature should be. Their practices should be replicated, not eradicated.
Please go here to comment in support of Drakes Bay Oyster Company. The public scope will close on November 29th. You can also find more detailed information at Drakes Bay Oyster Company.
The SF Oyster Nerd