Sustainable Oyster Farming, West Marin Style – part 3 DBOC, Stewards of the land

Click on the words above “Sustainable Oyster Farming…” to see this entire post.

NOTE: Those of you that come back to this page again and again, please consider adding a thoughtful comment. This page is meant to stimulate public discourse on the situation at hand.

July 1st was the first day to go boating on Drakes Estero since the closure to protect Harbor Seals began on March 1st. I had not been out there since February and really wanted to go visit this special place again. On July 6th I took my boat and cameras out to visit the same oyster racks I described in an earlier post here.

I wanted to see if any clean-up had been done since my last visit.

The location of the two oyster racks I visited are just outside the mouth of Home Bay and can be seen in the image below.

Click the image to see a larger version.

Home Bay Oyster Racks Map

The first rack I dove near was nearly half occupied with “french tubes”, long white tubes upon which oysters grow directly. The other half of the rack was partially occupied with the older style “black spacer tubes” [see a pile of over 5000 of these tubes I picked up on Point Reyes Beaches here], and partially devoid of tubes of any kind.

What I saw on the bottom under the french tube area shocked me, it was worse than I imagined. I pulled from the bottom, 136 french tubes, all of which were devoid of oysters, but a fraction of what is down there.

Below are still images and a video of what I saw.

Those tasked with cleaning up the mess of the Drakes Bay Oyster Company have their work cut out for them. Each tube I dug out of the mud clouded the water instantly, reducing visibility to nearly zero. In a little over 3 hours, I collected the 136 tubes from under half of one rack, and I estimate 60-70 tubes from under only 20 lineal feet of the adjacent rack. Even with dive gloves on, my fingers bled again and again from the numerous cuts caused by razor sharp oyster shells.

I was unable to load the other 60-70 tubes on my boat, as they were encrusted with mostly dead oysters. I stacked those on top of the racks above where I found them in the mud.

60-70 “french tubes” left on floor of Drakes Estero by Drakes Bay Oyster Company

60-70 “french tubes” left on floor of Drakes Estero by Drakes Bay Oyster Company


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Drakes Bay Oyster Company left these in Drakes Estero

Drakes Bay Oyster Company left these in Drakes Estero


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Oyster farming trash left on the floor of Drakes Estero by Drakes bay Oyster Company

Oyster farming trash left on the floor of Drakes Estero by Drakes bay Oyster Company


click on image to see larger version

Oyster farming trash left on the floor of Drakes Estero by Drakes bay Oyster Company

Oyster farming trash left on the floor of Drakes Estero by Drakes bay Oyster Company


click on image to see larger version

Didemnum vexillum. invasive tunicate growing on a suspended oyster growing device called a french tube.

Didemnum vexillum. invasive tunicate growing on a suspended oyster growing device called a french tube.


click on image to see larger version

Didemnum vexillum. invasive tunicate growing on a suspended oyster growing device called a french tube.

Didemnum vexillum. invasive tunicate growing on a suspended oyster growing device called a french tube.

Cert. denied – Looking forward to an Estero without miles of racks, plastic bags

Click on the words above “Cert. denied” to see this entire post.

The supreme court issued their orders this morning.

On the list of cases denied a hearing, Drakes Bay Oyster Company.

Now to get DBOC to clean up the mess they bought/created along with the lease.

Let’s hope they break with what seems to be the tradition of the oyster industry and actually do the right thing and clean up the mess they made while making a profit from the public waters of the State of California.

Read about other local oyster growers and the mess they either created, bought, continue to create or are beginning to clean up, here, here, here and here.

scotus.1.Order List

scotus.2.order list

scotus.3.order list


Save our Tomales Bay – part 17, TBOC gets after it in a big way

Click on the words above “Save our Tomales Bay – part 17, TBOC gets after it in a big way” to see this entire post.

As you may have noticed if you’ve been keeping up with the Series “Save our Tomales Bay…”, I have a big problem with people that trash the planet. Same goes for companies that those people often hide behind in the courts.

Apparently Todd and his crew at Tomales Bay Oyster Company do too!

The images below, recorded on 16 May, show the latest of a few big days where the TBOC staff made time to pick up the mess left behind by a previous oyster farmer whose lease they purchased.

Todd tells me he has removed over 3000 of the PVC pipes you see in the images. He likely has several thousand more to go. He tells me he plans to remove those soon. And I believe him.

Kudos to the TBOC crew for their efforts at being a good steward of the very bay they depend upon for their livelihood. The same bay that hundreds, perhaps thousands of species called home long before humans decided to complicate matters with all our trash.

Oyster farmers in California pay into an escrow account when they lease an area. Those funds were designed to be used to pay for cleanup under certain conditions. The problem as I see it is, that fund is inaccessible due to complicated rules. So, the cleanup that should be taking place, especially when leases change hands, never happens. Witness the messes we see in Tomlaes Bay, Drakes Estero and all along the Marin coast, thanks to Johnson’s oysters [now Drakes Bay Oyster Company].

I plan to work with the Fish & Wildlife Commission to change the language in the lease agreement so that no more of these messes get left behind. More on that later.

If the people pushing the California Shellfish Initiative want to expand oyster farming up and down the coast of California, they best get on board with lease agreements that have teeth, stopping all the finger pointing between present and past lease owners over who made the mess. Better yet, define best practices for all oyster farmers such that the mess does NOT get made in the first place.

Anyone that wants a copy of the current lease agreement in use, and is willing to help modify the language to ensure a clean California coast, send me a note and I’ll send you a copy.

As always, click on an image to see a much larger version.

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See the first post in this series “Save our Tomales Bay” here.

River otters

Click on the words “River otters” above to see this entire post.

While visiting a favorite area today, I came upon a troop of river otters.

I’ve seen one or two here before, never this many.

How many can you see?

As each one came down to the pool of fresh water, it performed a brief ritualistic dance, relieved itself, then slipped in for a bath. Each successive otter smelled the ejecta of the prior otter before commencing its own dance.

Learn more about river otters here

Enjoy

Hello Portosan, please come pickup the port-o-pottie….

Click the words above “Hello Portosan, please come pickup the port-o-pottie….” to see this entire post.

While cleaning a remote beach south of Stinson today, I came across this discarded port-o-pottie tank.

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I’ll give them a call in the morning to come pick it up.

GPS waypoints and a trail-head should be good enough.

Don’t you think?

UPDATE: After sending the company that owns this garbage a note containing pictures, maps and the exact location, asking for them to come pick it up, (Nicole, how come you never called me back?), I have heard nothing. This huge mess is likely still laying on the beach near Stinson Beach, being ground into fine yellow plastic fish food by the surf and rocks.

Memorial Day in West Marin

Click the words above “Memorial Day in West Marin” to see this entire post.

Blessed are we that live near to the coast
Rhythmic surf soothes our souls
Peregrine, osprey, pelican fill the sky
Five white sharks swim free in the sea

Cursed are we that live near to the coast
Explosions of plastic remind us our folly
Blanket the beach needlessly with pretty poison

Soldiers travel the world
To protect us from evil empires
Who to protect us from our convenient plastic poison?


As always, click on an image to see a larger version

Last year on this day

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Save our Tomales Bay – part 16 Weekly pickup after TBOC – preview

Click the words above “Save our Tomales Bay – part 16 Weekly pickup after TBOC – preview” to see this entire post.

I had hoped to publish this weekend images of the garbage I picked up near Tomales Bay Oyster Company over the past four months. Shooting images and fiddling with a video editing program makes for slow going.

So here are three images showing a subset of what I picked up on three different occasion.

I’ll get the entire set of images up as soon as I can.

The gray disk in the image is 35 and 3/4 inches across.

I have been in touch with Todd at Tomales Bay Oyster Company. He assures me that he is taking serious the issues my images of his trash in Tomales Bay bring up. He told me he pulled out 1700 PVC pipes from the area I visit often. I stopped by this weekend to see how it looked, the tide, swell and murky water prevented me from seeing the fruits of his labors. I’ll check next weekend and report back.

25 zip-ties, black plastic from oyster bag, oyster bag bits, and yes, that is a disposable diaper found on the shore of Tomales Bay.

25 zip-ties, black plastic from oyster bag, oyster bag bits, and yes, that is a disposable diaper found on the shore of Tomales Bay.


click image to see an enormous version

Workers cut the zip-tie securing the bag to the anchoring rope during harvest and simply let the plastic go into the bay. Sounds like they went to the Charlie Johnson school of oyster farming. Thankfully that school is now closed.

Workers cut the zip-tie securing the bag to the anchoring rope during harvest and simply let the plastic go into the bay.
Sounds like they went to the Charlie Johnson school of oyster farming.
Thankfully that school is now closed.


click image to see an enormous version

Oyster worker gloves, oyster bag tags, copper wire used to tie oyster bags closed, broken glass, blue foam from oyster bags, brown foam from work platforms, shot shell, shot shell wads and the ubiquitous tennis ball.

Oyster worker gloves, oyster bag tags, copper wire used to tie oyster bags closed, broken glass, blue foam from oyster bags, brown foam from work platforms, shot shell, shot shell wads and the ubiquitous tennis ball.


See the first post in this series “Save our Tomales Bay” here.

Next installment of this series may be found here.

Save our Tomales Bay – part 15 Tomales Bay Oyster Company stuck in the mud, along with all their trash

Click the words “Save our Tomales Bay…” above to see this post in its entirety.

Nearly two months ago I wrote about a chance meeting with the owner of Tomales Bay Oyster Company on the beach near his operation on the shore of Tomales Bay. This was not the first time I had spoken with Todd about the mess his company makes in Tomales Bay.

You can read that post here.

I thought he had finally come to see the error in his methods and was going to instruct his employees to quit throwing trash into Tomales Bay, make simple changes to some of his processes and reduce the amount of plastic his business knowingly dumped into the bay.

How wrong I was.

Since January I have walked a quarter mile section of coastline adjacent to his business each week and picked up anything that did not belong. Plastic bags, hundreds of plastic zip-ties, ropes, glass, rubber gloves etc. The vast majority from the oyster company, but not all of it.

For months, I had been gathering a large bag of this trash each week and putting the date on it. A few times I packed out numerous large grow out bags as well, full of dead oysters.

Then, after speaking with Todd, three weeks in a row I found barely more than a handful. Woo hoo I thought. They are going to stop polluting so much, maybe even pick up their own trash.

Alas, my excitement was short-lived. The trash was back, same volume as before.

WTF I thought to myself. Their boss and I talked. The workers see me week after week, knowing I am telling the world of their selfish littering, and still they dump their mess in Tomales Bay.

Well, enough is enough. In the coming week, I’ll show you what I have gathered from the shore where they farm oysters at Tomales Bay Oyster Company. You decide if this is the type of operation that should be expanded up and down the coast of California. The California Department of Fish & WIldlife (DFW) is pushing the “California Shellfish Initiative”. If this is what they are selling, I want no part of it. And neither should anyone else. (Except perhaps a company more interested in short-term profits over a clean environment for those that come after us)

For now, you’ll have to enjoy what appears to me to be a failed experiment left to rot in Tomales Bay.

The images that follow show what I have seen laying in the mud for years – out of sight to all but a fool such as myself, barely 500 meters from the tables filled to capacity each weekend with oyster eaters, ignorant what is being done to the planet to put shellfish on their table and money in the pockets of a few hard-working, yet uncaring, selfish shellfish individuals.

Feast your eyes on the carnage wrought by Tomales Bay Oyster Company, then call them and ask that they stop trashing Tomales Bay. (415) 663-1243.

All of the following images were made on 19 April, 2014 between 8:24 am and 9:12 am.

Click any image to see a huge version

abandoned PVC pipes  - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned PVC pipes – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned PVC pipes  - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned PVC pipes – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

Click any image to see a huge version

abandoned rope - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned rope – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned oyster rack mount covered with marine growth - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned oyster rack mount covered with marine growth – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

Click any image to see a huge version

abandoned oyster bags - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned oyster bags – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned oyster racks - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned oyster racks – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

Click any image to see a huge version

abandoned oyster racks - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned oyster racks – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned PVC pipes  - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned PVC pipes – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

Click any image to see a huge version

abandoned PVC pipes and in use grow out bags - Tomales Bay Oyster Company Looks like a hurricane hit a hardware store. If a hardware store looked like this, it would either get cleaned up, or go out of business. Hardware stores are easy to build. There is only one Tomales Bay. So.....clean it up, or go out of business!

abandoned PVC pipes and in use grow out bags – Tomales Bay Oyster Company
Looks like a hurricane hit a hardware store. If a hardware store looked like this, it would either get cleaned up, or go out of business.
Hardware stores are easy to build. There is only one Tomales Bay.
So…..clean it up, or go out of business!

abandoned PVC pipes and in use grow out bags - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned PVC pipes and in use grow out bags – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

Click any image to see a huge version

abandoned PVC pipes - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned PVC pipes – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned zip-ties - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned zip-ties – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

Click any image to see a huge version

abandoned oyster rack gear - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned oyster rack gear – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned oyster rack mount covered with marine growth - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned oyster rack mount covered with marine growth – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

Click any image to see a huge version

abandoned oyster rack mount covered with marine growth - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned oyster rack mount covered with marine growth – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned grow out bags, rope and PVC pipes - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned grow out bags, rope and PVC pipes – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

Click any image to see a huge version

abandoned grow out bags covered with marine growth - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned grow out bags covered with marine growth – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned grow out bags covered with marine growth - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned grow out bags covered with marine growth – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

Click any image to see a huge version

abandoned grow out bags covered with marine growth - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned grow out bags covered with marine growth – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned plastic trays - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned plastic trays – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

Click any image to see a huge version

abandoned plastic trays - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned plastic trays – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned plastic trays - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned plastic trays – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

Click any image to see a huge version

abandoned plastic trays - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned plastic trays – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned plastic trays - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned plastic trays – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

Click any image to see a huge version

abandoned plastic trays - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned plastic trays – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned oyster rack - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned oyster rack – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

Click any image to see a huge version

abandoned grow out bags covered with marine growth - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned grow out bags covered with marine growth – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned grow out bags covered with marine growth - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned grow out bags covered with marine growth – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

Click any image to see a huge version

abandoned grow out bags covered with marine growth - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned grow out bags covered with marine growth – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned grow out bags covered with marine growth - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned grow out bags covered with marine growth – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

Click any image to see a huge version

abandoned grow out bags covered with marine growth - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned grow out bags covered with marine growth – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned grow out bags covered with marine growth - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned grow out bags covered with marine growth – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

Click any image to see a huge version

abandoned grow out bags covered with marine growth - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned grow out bags covered with marine growth – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

retail oyster bag stuck in the mud - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

retail oyster bag stuck in the mud – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

Click any image to see a huge version

plastic rope by the miles lost each year in the mud - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

plastic rope by the miles lost each year in the mud – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

retail oyster bag stuck in the mud - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

retail oyster bag stuck in the mud – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

Click any image to see a huge version

retail oyster bag stuck in the mud - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

retail oyster bag stuck in the mud – Tomales Bay Oyster Company


See the first post in this series “Save our Tomales Bay” here.

Next installment of this series may be found here.

Flotsam and Jetsam, a film

Click on the title of the film above, “Flotsam and Jetsam”, to see this post as intended.

14 minutes and worth a view I reckon.

It came out in 2012, I only now discovered it.

Read about the film here.

The banner image above shows a toilet that washed ashore at Abbotts Lagoon, Point Reyes National Seashore on 17 July, 2010.

A fishing boat from central California overturned in the surf with four fishermen aboard.

Sadly, all four died.

In addition to the toilet, I recovered empty beer cans, life vests, several fishing rods, large sections of the boat and a ziploc bag of quarters.

 

Our SPECIES treats this one and only planet we call home as if it were that toilet.

 

When will we stop this madness?