Growers seek correction of EIS

06/06/2013

The fifth Data Quality Act complaint since 2007 has been filed against the National Park Service in regard to science surrounding the oyster farm in Drakes Estero, this time in regard to the draft and final versions of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Drakes Bay Oyster Company (DBOC). The complaint, filed by the Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association (PCSGA) claims that the EIS relied on the same data that a 2007 National Park Service report did, a report the National Academy of Sciences found “selectively presented, over-interpreted, or misrepresented the available scientific information on potential impacts” of the oyster farm. In addition to long-term points of contention about the quality of seashore science on Drakes Bay—including eelgrass habitat, invasive tunicate and water quality—the filing also expresses concerns about the far-reaching impacts of the EIS. “Because DBOC’s operations are similar to other shellfish mariculture operations undertaken nationwide, opponents of any shellfish farm could claim that the general conclusions made in the EIS concerning oyster and clam operations apply to the other estuaries where oyster and clam farming occurs.”  The EIS could be used to “ask the shellfish community to do something, change their practices, and those practices could mean greater cost to a shellfish grower, [and] put growers out of business,” said Margaret Barrette, executive director of the PCSGA. The complaint noted two cases in Alabama and South Carolina in which the EIS was used to fight oyster lease applications. As to the argument that former Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar had discretion to decline the lease renewal regardless of the EIS, the complaint asserts it is “not directly related to the Secretary’s decision” but instead responds to the EIS in general, again noting the broader impacts that the EIS could have on bivalve farming nationally.