The California Coastal Commission is examining allegations that Drakes Bay Oyster Company has for years been routinely dumping debris into Drakes Estero. The claim was made last month, when Amy Trainer, who heads the Environmental Action Committee (EAC) of West Marin, showed up at the Commission’s meeting with a bag of plastic rods she said her organization had collected near the oyster farm.
Trainer also submitted photographs reportedly showing oyster boats docked in prohibited seal haul-out sites.
The photographer credited with the shots—one of which was published on Wednesday in the online National Parks Traveler—John Hulls, is unsure how the group got a hold of them, but is certain that the published photo was edited.
“It’s totally dishonest,” he said. “They took my photo and cropped it to show the exact opposite of what it actually showed, which was the boat docking in the area explicitly allowed by Coastal Commission protocols.”
Oyster company owner Kevin Lunny said the docking site was the same his staffers have used for years. “The park has known this all along,” he said. “They have GPS records and 280,000 photos that show us docking there repeatedly. We have never been told not to be there.”
As for the debris, Lunny said that since taking over in 2005 he has maintained a policy of zero loss, that the items collected were likely deposited during the previous owner’s tenure, and that he regularly sends out his staff to collect washed up garbage, 99 percent of which he said are bottles and wrappers from park visitors.
Lunny is flying to Huntington Beach today to attend the Commission’s meeting to set the record straight. “It’s just sad that it’s our own EAC that has sunk to these depths,” he said.