California Department of Fish and Game has changed its
name to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife
as of January 1, 2013.
New CDFG Aquaculture Coordinator Appointed
The California Department of Fish and Game has hired a
new Aquaculture Coordinator. Randolph (Randy) Lovell, of
Elk Grove, has been appointed aquaculture coordinator at
the CDFG. Lovell is a graduate of U.C. Davis, Department
of Animal Science (Aquaculture Option), and is an
experienced aquaculturist. He has been associated with
the aquaculture industry for many years, has had a
diverse career, most recently as a consultant at RLovell
Marketing since 2011. He was a regional manager at
Instrumentation Northwest Inc. from 2007 to 2011,
president at Stillwater Farms from 2004 to 2007, general
manager at Golden State Koi and Watergardens from 2003
to 2004, president and founder at Balance Aqua Systems
from 1997 to 2003, director of the aquaculture division
at Royce Instrument Corporation from 1993 to 2002 and
aquaculture systems manager at Solar Aquafarms from 1986
to 1992. Lovell is a member of the California
Aquaculture Association and the Groundwater Resources
Association of California. This is a Governor's
appointed position, after extensive screening by CDFG's
Director and higher administration. Welcome aboard
Drakes Bay Oyster Company struggles on against Park
by David Mitchell under General News, Point Reyes
National Seashore, Uncategorized
A blog by David V. Mitchell -
Sparsely Sage and Timely
Six years ago, former National Seashore Supt. Don
Neubacher began a campaign of falsehoods — later exposed
by the Inspector General of the Interior Department,
among others — regarding the oyster operation in an
effort to create opposition to renewing its permit.
Lunny at the time reported that when he objected to the
way he was being treated by the park, Neubacher’s
response was, “You’ve got to remember, I don’t have to
pay my lawyers.”
Tue 10 Jul 2012
Bay Oyster Company owner Kevin Lunny headed to Irvine,
Orange County, Tuesday to speak before the National
Academy of Sciences, which is reviewing a Park Service
environmental report on his operation.
with the understanding he would receive only three
minutes to present his case for staying in business
after his present permit expires Nov. 30. When he got to
the NAS meeting, however, Lunny received about half an
hour to answer questions.
Drakes Bay Oyster Company owner Kevin Lunny.
This wasn’t supposed to be happening. Lunny bought the
business from its former owner, Tom Johnson, seven years
ago. At that time, Lunny and his lawyer negotiated a
“statement of principle” with Interior Department
attorneys and Jon Jarvis, then Pacific West Regional
Director of the Park Service.
agreement signed by both Jarvis and Lunny guaranteed the
oyster grower that he would have plenty of input if an
environmental-impact statement were required when the
permit was up for renewal. Nonetheless, when the Park
Service began preparing an EIS a year and a half ago,
Lunny found himself excluded from the scoping process.
brought up the legal document he and Jarvis (now
national director of the Park Service) had signed only
to have the Park Service tell him it was
“unenforceable,” he noted this week. “If you don’t like
it,” the Park Service added, “take it to court.” It was
not the first time the Park Service had used that
years ago, former National Seashore Supt. Don Neubacher
began a campaign of falsehoods — later exposed by the
Inspector General of the Interior Department, among
others — regarding the oyster operation in an effort to
create opposition to renewing its permit. Lunny at the
time reported that when he objected to the way he was
being treated by the park, Neubacher’s response was,
“You’ve got to remember, I don’t have to pay my
Retail sales building at Drakes Bay Oyster Company.
Neubacher’s political reason — aside from what turned
into personal antipathy — for wanting Lunny to shut down
operations in Drakes Estero is that Congress in 1976 had
declared the surrounding area “potential wilderness.”
The park, however, has chosen to ignore the
congressional testimony of the legislation’s sponsors
who said the proposed potential-wilderness designation
would not affect oyster growing in the estero.
Although the Park Service has made no secret of being
ready to ruin Lunny with legal bills if he stands on his
rights, the stratagem hasn’t worked so far. Already, he
has received “over $1 million worth of pro bono legal
help” from one law firm, and two others are also joining
in, Lunny said.
“The San Francisco Bay Area,” the oysterman explained,
is “a tight-knit community, and people have been good to
us. All are liberal Democrats, green-minded people,
non-corporate. They care about honesty in government.”
The unpaid legal representation could prove invaluable
to Lunny should he need to legally challenge an adverse
decision by the Park Service on his permit.
The Park Service has put forth various claims — each
debunked in succession — that oyster growing in the
estuary is bad for the environment. In contrast, an
earlier National Academy of Sciences review found that
oyster cultivation is not causing significant
environmental problems and may well be benefiting the
The estuary used to be rich in native, Olympia oysters,
but they were harvested to virtual extinction by the
1950s and 60s. The former oyster-company owners, the
Johnson family, then began raising Pacific oysters,
which have restored the ecosystem, the first Academy of
Sciences review noted. Oysters are filter feeders that
clean the water.
The Park Service in response has claimed there never
were native oysters in the estero despite millions of
Olympia oyster shells found in the middens (shell heaps)
of Native Americans who lived beside the estuary.
Carbon dating has now determined the shells in the
middens are prehistoric, prompting the Park Service to
claim — without evidence — that Native Americans must
have caught these millions of oysters in Tomales Bay and
for unknown reasons hauled them all the way to Drakes
Bay to eat them. To Lunny, the scenario seems
Larvae for today’s Pacific oysters, which are the
variety grown on the West Coast, come from “carefully
controlled” hatcheries in Oregon and Washington, Lunny
Growing oyster larvae into seed oysters (Photo by
He raises the larvae in tanks until they are large
enough to attach themselves to old shells and then start
growing their own shells. Only when these “seed oysters”
are large enough not to fall through mesh growing bags
are they hung from racks in the estero. In other cases,
shells holding the seed oysters are hung in a line from
In response to EIR-related questions from the Park
Service, Lunny on July 5 wrote to National Seashore
Supt. Cecily Muldoon:
“Approximately 40 percent of Drakes Bay Oyster Company
income is from onsite retail sales, 40 percent is sold
directly to local markets and restaurants — all
delivered by DBOC directly, 18 percent is sold to
Tomales Bay shellfish growers, and 2 percent is sold
through a wholesale seafood distributor based in San
Oysters from racks in Drakes Estero are unloaded from a
barge at the oyster company’s onshore site.
very good year, DBOC might produce 850,000 pounds of
oysters, Lunny wrote. Those numbers would suggest that
if the full 18 percent of DBOC’s total production in a
very good year were to go to to Hog Island and Tomales
Bay oyster companies, the total would be a whopping
Tomales Bay growers have a huge demand they can’t meet,”
Lunny said Monday. If Drakes Bay Oyster Company were
shut down by the park, the effect on Tomales Bay growers
would be significant, and those growers have supported
DBOC’s efforts to renew its permit.
like to work with neighbors and colleagues,” Lunny said,
and want the oysters sold locally to “come from locals.”
Washing freshly harvested oysters.
there any opportunity for Drakes Bay Oyster Company to
relocate to Tomales Bay.
July 5 letter to Seashore Supt. Muldoon, Lunny wrote:
“It is important to note that in late 2008 through early
2009, the National Park Service (NPS) seriously misled
the public by telling US Senator Dianne Feinstein, the
DBOC, and the public that NPS had a plan and an offer to
relocate DBOC to Tomales Bay.
fact, NPS did not consult with the California Department
of Fish and Game (CDFG) prior to making this assertion
and did not have a plan to relocate DBOC.
NPS made the claim that it had a plan to relocate DBOC
to Tomales Bay, NPS was informed by CDFG that this
relocation was impossible for several reasons:
has no authority over the Fish and Game Commission (FGC)
and CDFG leases and has no say over how shellfish leases
are issued by the FGC.
“Tomales Bay shellfish production is already maximized
to the extent practicable.
“There were no available leases in Tomales Bay to
in good faith, participated in discussions, committed to
negotiations, and was willing to evaluate a proposal. It
was only later that it became clear that the NPS did not
have a relocation plan or proposal when it told Senator
Feinstein and DBOC that it did. The NPS promised a
relocation that was impossible.
“Nevertheless, the public remains misinformed about this
relocation proposal. Members of the public known to be
working closely with NPS staff continuously criticize
DBOC for failing to negotiate with NPS regarding
has certainly heard these misrepresentations from the
NPS supporters yet NPS has failed to correct the public
on Tuesday with Kirsten Ramey, who is in charge of
marine aquaculture for Fish and Game, found that while
it technically might be possible to get a new
shellfish-growing lease in Tomales Bay, in practical
terms, it could not be done. The permits and studies
necessary would be overwhelming.
the agencies that would have to study the proposal and
approve it, she said, would be state Fish and Game, the
County of Marin, the California Coastal Commission, the
Regional Water Quality Control Board, the Army Corps of
Engineers, the Coast Guard and possibly others.
Virtually no one can afford the cost, which is why no
new leases have been issued for years, she explained.
had not received a response to his letter to Supt.
Muldoon before his trip to Irvine Tuesday, but the
National Seashore had already given a copy of it to DBOC
critic Gordon Bennett of Inverness.
noted that Bennett — citing the letter — had called her
asking about oysters from Drakes Estero being sold at
Tomales Bay. His apparent concern, she said, was that
organisms or pathogens could be transferred from one bay
to the other this way.
However, that is not possible, Ramey said, because Hog
Island and Tomales Bay oyster companies sell the DBOC
oysters from tanks and do not place them in their bay.
Tank water is not discharged into the bay, she added.
Lunny’s fight to get his oyster company’s permit renewed
has gone on for years, and if the dispute ultimately
lands in court, the fight could go on a good deal longer
Drakes Bay Oyster Company, National Academy of Sciences,
Point Reyes National Seashore
David V. Mitchell, editor & publisher emeritus of The Point Reyes Light. In
1979, The Light won the Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious
Public Service for an exposé largely written by him of
the increasingly violent Synanon cult. Mitchell retired
in November 2005 after 35 years of newspapering, 27 of
those at The Light.
his newspaper career, he also worked for the old San
Francisco Examiner, Sonora’s Daily Union Democrat in the
Sierra Nevada, and Council Bluff’s daily newspaper, The
Nonpareil. In addition, he edited the weekly Sebastopol
(California) Times. Mitchell holds a master’s degree in
Communications and a bachelor’s degree in English from
Stanford University. He is 68 and lives in Point Reyes
Station on the rural coast north of San Francisco.
Copyright© 2006 - 2012. David V. Mitchell. All rights
reserved. Reprinted in California Aquaculture
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