Calif. oyster company gets legal help

By

SeafoodSource staff

Published on
December 27, 2012

A California oyster company is getting some financial help in its lawsuit against the U.S. federal government seeking permission to remain in operation.

The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, a nonprofit organization that helps family farms and artisan food producers in need of legal aid, has set up a litigation fund for the Drakes Bay Oyster Company’s suit against the U.S. National Park Service (NPS).

The farm, located on the shores of Drakes Estero in Marin County, Calif., has been operating since 1972 under a permit from the federal government granted when it bought the property and 8,000 surrounding acres that year.

But on 29 November 2012, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Kenneth Salazar announced his decision that the NPS not renew a lease held by the company, and ordered the company to vacate the property within 90 days.

According to the company, 31 full-time employees with the company produce “millions of dollars” in oyster products, which have served restaurants in the San Francisco Bay area. The company also said its products represent “anywhere from 30 to 40 percent” of the state’s oyster supply.

“Forcing the company out of business would mean that the state could only make up the lost production by importing from overseas,” the company said in a release.

The company filed a lawsuit on 4 December in federal court, “seeking a declaration that the decision not to renew its lease was not in accordance with applicable law.” The company has also filed a motion for an injunction against the vacate order until the lawsuit is resolved.

While the new legal fund is not considered a charity, it is available to hold donations to help pay for the company’s legal costs.

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