End of an era in Marin today, as Drakes Bay Oyster Company
is shutting its retail doors today, quite possibly for good.
No matter how you feel about Drakes Bay Oyster Company's right to stay open on federal land
, the closing of the farm is still a blow to the local shellfish economy. An oyster farm has been operating on Drakes Estuary since 1932, and it is currently the only operating cannery in the state. You might be thinking about the farm supplying just oysters on the half-shell, like other operations in the area, but every time you order an oyster po'boy, fried oysters, oyster stew, or something else, you're getting oysters that have been pre-shucked. Now those will have to be imported from Oregon or Washington or even further afield.
The Bay Area's other source of local oysters, Tomales Bay, also gets flooded with toxins from cattle farms a few weeks a year (at least, in normal years when it rains), making the oysters unharvestable. DBOC was able to fill that gap for high-volume oyster restaurants like Waterbar during those weeks, but now the restaurant will have to look north to Humboldt Bay or Oregon/Washington for half-shell oysters.
A group of restaurateurs filed a lawsuit
and got the farm a stay of execution that will allow it to continue harvesting oysters for at least 30 more days
. That court hearing is scheduled for September 9.