Report backs Drakes Bay Oyster ouster

If oysters are your bag, that bag could soon be getting more expensive. A plan by the Federal government to effectively close Drakes Bay Oyster Co. inched one step closer to reality Monday.

An environmental report that could determine the future of the Drakes Bay Oyster Co. was adequate and not flawed, according to a peer review released Monday by the Department of the Interior.

Drakes Bay Oyster Co.’s 40-year lease to operate inside the Point Reyes National Seashore expires this November. A draft Environmental Impact Statement released in December supported booting the oyster company and designating Drakes Estero as official wilderness.

The 92-page report more or less validated the analysis of the draft EIS. Some reviewers criticized some of the literature cited in the original report, while others raised issue with some of the study’s data.

Reviewer Edwin Grosholz, biologist from the University of California Davis, wondered why studies on plankton and sea plants from San Francisco Bay were used instead of others from Tomales Bay, a body much more similar to Drakes Estero:

“The impacts of oyster aquaculture… is [sic] based on comparisons with San Francisco Bay, which is probably less similar to Drakes Estero than any other bay in the region. The authors apparently overlook or are unaware of a nearly a decade of work…”

A final EIS is expected this summer, which could clear the way for the clearing of oyster racks from Drakes Estero. About 500,000 pounds of Pacific oyster meat currently makes its way to Bay Area tables from Drakes Bay Oyster Co. each year.