Court asked to fine Kevin Lunny

05/23/2013

Marin Superior Court has been asked to fine Drakes Bay Oyster Company for what the California Coastal Commission (CCC) calls the “intentional and knowing” violation of state law and the agency’s orders. The commission’s filing came in response to two ongoing lawsuits on behalf of the oyster farm alleging that the CCC has overstepped its legal authority. Drakes Bay says the CCC is attempting to regulate mariculture standards entrusted to another state agency and enforce demolition orders that would result in environmental harm and millions of dollars in unnecessary costs. For its part, the state agency says the oyster farm has failed to remove Manila clams, manage debris and prevent invasive species. In a statement Drakes Bay said decisions about which fish can be cultivated are the jurisdiction of the Fish and Game Commission and that all documents required for the issuance of a permit have been submitted. The commission did not ask for a specific amount in penalties but said the company could be fined between $1,000 to $12,000 per day for more than a dozen violations over several years, which could amount to a dollar figure in the millions. They also asked for the dismissal of lawsuits by Drakes Bay, the Alliance for Local Sustainable Agriculture and Phyllis Faber because their claims were not presented “in a manner that gave the commission a fair opportunity to address them.” Zachary R. Walton of SSL Law Firm, which is representing the farm and its advocates, said in a statement that the commission complaint was “retaliation against the Lunny family, the oyster farm and their supporters for exercising their rights under the law.” A judge has ordered the commission to show cause for its orders and scheduled a hearing for July 9 in San Rafael.