Sustainable Oyster Farming, DBOC style – Stewardship concluded, thankfully

Please click the words above “Sustainable Oyster Farming, DBOC style ….” to see this entire post.

Happy new year.

1 January came around and I had no choice but to go enjoy the first day of an unimproved Estero.

The first thing to catch one’s eye is the new sign out on SFD….

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Here is an image of this same spot on 24 Feb., 2013
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Driving down to the put-in, the empty parking-lot surprised me, not another boater out enjoying this auspicious new year.

There was a large truck poised to haul out another load of stewardship.

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Unloading my boat, odd specks in the water caught my eye.

Remains of a barge DBOC crushed into pieces while in the Estero so they could remove it. Too bad they left thousands of pieces of foam to further pollute The Estero.

Remains of a barge DBOC crushed into pieces while in the Estero so they could remove it. Too bad they left thousands of pieces of foam to further pollute The Estero.


Wow, it looked as if they had destroyed one of their barges and left the shards of foam as one last gift.

After putting my boat in the water and paddling around to photograph the mess, the truck driver on-shore informed me that they had indeed crushed a barge into pieces so they could lift it out of the water.

He then asked me if I could fetch the large wooden piece of barge still floating in The Estero and bring it to him so he could take care of that. I said sure and paddled over to it, threw a leg over it and paddled to shore dragging what must have weighed a few hundred pounds. He thanked me, as did I him.

After reading the comments made by one of the managers of DBOC at the “wake” held Saturday in Point Reyes Station, “The company, which also raised Manilla clams, has removed every oyster from the water in compliance with the terms of the settlement, according to Ginny Cummings, the farm’s manager.

We have taken anything out and with as much care as we always used in our operations,” Cummings said.”,

I can confirm that the same care was used in dismantling the operation as was used in running it.

As I returned from my short boating excursion, paddling against the strong ebb tide, thousands upon thousands of chunks of foam drifted with the tide, towards the mouth of The Estero. I picked up a few dozen of the larger pieces as I hurried ashore to meet a dear friend who was coming to visit.

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Thankfully, the variety of stewardship practiced by The Drakes Bay Oyster Company, and their workers for the past 30+ years will no longer impact a landscape that needs no improving whatsoever.

The grebes seen below can once again be grebes, unencumbered by the deep respect of DBOC.

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


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apologies for low quality iphone video of the mess


apologies for low quality iphone video of the mess


Horned Grebe

Horned Grebe


Eared Grebe

Eared Grebe

Save our Tomales Bay – part 18, Walker Creek mess, construction

Click the words above “Save our Tomales Bay – part 18,…” to see this entire post.

We’ve had some strong weather around these parts.

Witness the following images recorded today (29 Dec) showing the area at the mouth of Walker Creek.

There are four different oyster-farming leaseholders at this location. Maybe you can determine who runs which lease…

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

©Richard James - coastodian.org - Here is one way to operate a lease....

©Richard James – coastodian.org – Here is one way to operate a lease….


©Richard James - coastodian.org - And here is another way....

©Richard James – coastodian.org – And here is another way….


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©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


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©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


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©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


Seems some new construction has been going on in Tomales Bay.

A fence, of sorts has sprung up.

©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org

To get an idea where it is located, here are two images from Google Earth showing waypoints I marked when at this new structure.

Fence in Google Earth


Here is a closeup version of the image above.

The red line shows where two "fences" are in Tomales Bay. Note the length of these structures, as well as the length of a previous structure from last year that is no longer present, yet shown in the google earth image from last year.

The red line shows where two “fences” are in Tomales Bay. Note the length of these structures, as well as the length of a previous structure from last year that is no longer present, yet shown in the google earth image from last year.


Click on image to see larger version

©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


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©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


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©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


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©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


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©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


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©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


©Richard James - coastodian.org - Plastic coated copper wire left as so much garbage....This sort of dis-respect of the very environment being  capitalized upon really irks me.

©Richard James – coastodian.org – Plastic coated copper wire left as so much garbage….This sort of dis-respect of the very environment being capitalized upon really irks me.


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©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


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©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


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©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


©Richard James - coastodian.org - More tools of the trade left in Tomales Bay, as if it were the leaseholders' garage and this were a hobby.

©Richard James – coastodian.org – More tools of the trade left in Tomales Bay, as if it were the leaseholders’ garage and this were a hobby.


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©Richard James - coastodian.org - Ah what the heck, let's just leave these here, nobody will notice.

©Richard James – coastodian.org – Ah what the heck, let’s just leave these here, nobody will notice.


©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


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©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


©Richard James - coastodian.org - All of these PVC pipes you see are different pieces left to the sun and tides.

©Richard James – coastodian.org – All of these PVC pipes you see are different pieces left to the sun and tides.


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©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


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©Richard James - coastodian.org - Yet another tool left in the Tomales Bay.

©Richard James – coastodian.org – Yet another tool left in the Tomales Bay.


©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


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©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


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©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


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©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


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©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


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©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


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©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


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©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


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©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


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©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


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©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


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©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


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©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


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©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


Oyster farming is very, very hard work, no doubt about that. But if it cannot be done without leaving the sort of mess you see in the above images, perhaps the leases need to be reduced in size so that the existing crews CAN keep everyone’s environment looking much better. In addition, workers need to NOT leave their tools, gloves, bottled water etc. out on “their worksite”, AKA Tomales Bay, home to a multitude of birds, fish and insects.

Tomales Bay Triptych – Black-crowned night heron style

Click on the words “Tomales Bay Triptych” above to see this entire post.

Happy holidays.

The weather has been sublime of late.

Water in the creeks bringing a variety of salmon, Reservoirs filled, clear atmosphere with all the dust and smoke washed out.

This bird calls the area just north of Chicken Ranch its home. I never tire of seeing it roosting in the bayside trees or perched on a piling or the rocks below.

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

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Sustainable Oyster Farming, West Marin Style – part 8 crime scene video

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

Below you will find a video composed of 48 minutes of footage I recorded on 13 October while diving under 8 oyster racks in Schooner Bay.

Be sure to click the rectangle icon in the lower right of the video window to fill your screen with this HD footage.

Skip around to see the variety of messes left on the floor of The Estero by DBOC. Or grab a beer and some snacks and sit back to watch the whole thing. That way you can get a better idea of the scope of the damage at what truly is a crime scene.

Thankfully, next year no further damage will be done and the clean-up can begin in earnest.

The diving recorded here shows a portion of 1/10th of the racks being left in Drakes Estero by DBOC.



See the next post in this series here

Sustainable Oyster Farming, West Marin Style – part 7 Stewardship in Home Bay

Click the words above “Sustainable Oyster Farming…” to see this entire post. In particular, the banner image that shows two of the miles of racks in Drakes Estero, upon which I have placed several plastic bags filled with oyster shells that I found on the bottom, directly below the where they sit in this image.

Earlier this month I spent a few hours recording the mess left behind by DBOC under the oyster racks in Home Bay.

No surprises, simply more of the same disgraceful mess left behind by a firm that repeatedly touted itself as a steward of the land, with deep respect for the waters of The Estero.

Below is three brief minutes from hours of video I recorded.

Be sure to click the small rectangular icon in the lower right corner of the video window so you can see this HD footage fill up your screen. That way you’ll have a better idea of how the floor of Drakes Estero is filled with the remnants of a farce, foisted on us all as the model of sustainable farming.


See the next post in this series here

Sustainable Oyster Farming, West Marin Style – You think you’re doing something good….

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

Lately I’ve been boating and diving various areas of Drakes Estero in order to get a handle on how enormous of a mess is being left by Drakes Bay Oyster Company. I assure you, it is a disaster out there. For them to suggest that the cleanup cost would be only $10,000 (which they did, more than once), is one mighty big whopper!

After diving under 8 long racks today, over one half mile of lineal rack space, I put up my sail and let the wind drive me back to the put in near the oyster processing facility.

As I pulled my boat out of the water, the manager of DBOC approached me, saying she had a couple questions she’d like to ask me. I said sure.

“We’ve been trying to figure out who is putting the tubes [french tubes] up on top of the racks.”

“That would likely be me.” I replied

“Well, there are live oysters on those tubes, and when you do that, it kills the oysters.”

“The tubes I’ve placed on the racks are from the mud on the bottom of The Estero.”

“We don’t want you to do that. We are still harvesting oysters, and that is like stealing from us.”

“Those oysters have been abandoned on the bottom of The Estero, they are not on the racks. I’m cleaning up the mess out there that you folks refuse to clean up.”

“What you are doing would be like me taking your boat and putting it in my car,” she said to me.

I will digress for a moment to correct her remark, given all that has transpired over the past almost two years.

She thinks that my picking up the mess that DBOC has been leaving in Drakes Estero for the past six and a half years or so, is like her stealing my kayak.

Sure, that is correct, if:

1 I signed a contract with a landlord to lease a place to store my kayak and was told that after 7 years, I could no longer store my kayak there.

2 During the lease, I enlisted the help of all manner of politicians, lobbyists and other groups to put pressure on the landlord to extend my lease.

3 At the end of my lease, the “home-owners association” that my landlord belonged to told me my lease would not be extended.

4 I sued the landlord and HOA. The court hearing the case rejected my claim.

5 I appealed my case to a higher court, they too, rejected my case.

6 I appealed my case to the entire bench of said higher court, they rejected my claim.

7 I appealed my claim to the Supreme Court of the United States, they refused to hear my case.

8 Lots of my buddies sued on my behalf, trying to get my lease to store my kayak extended. That case was tossed out, my buddies were scolded.

9 For the nearly 2 years I was fighting against the lease I signed, I continued to store my kayak, yet did not pay rent. And I earned income renting out my kayak to others.

And then, I ran my kayak through a shredder and left all the pieces scattered about the place I had leased.

Yeah, I can see how my picking up the abandoned mess left by DBOC is just like her stealing my kayak.

Now back to the conclusion of our exchange today…

“I’ll stop placing tubes on top of the racks”, I said.

“Are you going to pick up all the live oysters from off the bottom?” I asked her.

“We are still harvesting oysters and will continue to do so.”

“You didn’t answer my question. Are you going to pick up all the live oysters off the bottom of The Estero?”

“We are going to keep harvesting until they kick us out. After December 31, you can do whatever you want.”

“You still haven’t answered my question. I’m gonna stop placing french tubes on top of the racks, are you going to pick up all the live oysters off the bottom of The Estero?” I asked for a third time.

“Yes we will.”

Great! Then I won’t have to pick them up.

Her last words to me were, “You seem to think you are doing something good out there.”

Later, I thought to myself, “yeah, I’m showing some respect to Drakes Estero, something DBOC is good at talking about, and not so good at actually doing.

Below are images from what I saw today. They represent a fraction of the disaster left by DBOC on the bottom of Drakes Estero.

All images ©Richard James and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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


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See the next post in this series here

Commercial fishermen are extremely conscious of their impact

Click on the words above “Commercial fishermen are extremely conscious of their impact” to see this entire post.

The other day while visiting Spud Point at Bodega Bay, I noticed the signs you see below affixed to the railing along the harbor. Their poor condition led me to believe they have been there a long, long time.

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Since 2008, I have personally packed off Point Reyes Beaches:

miles of plastic rope

thousands of crab buoys (one very well known bodega fisherman demanded that I give them back to him, no charge, as they belonged to him. Reminding him that he abandoned them on the beach (they were now mine) and that I hauled them out on my back, I declined his offer. This same fisherman also apologized for his meth-addict brother (his words) who nearly ripped my head off when I offered to sell him back his gear for a fraction of what it cost him to build.)

hundreds of crab bait jars

hundreds of empty bleach bottles – It was only this spring that I learned why I find so many bleach bottles on the beach in the winter. Crab fisherman use pure bleach to dunk their buoys while out at sea to kill the marine growth on them. I witnessed a fisherman at Spud Point hauling dozens of gallons to his boat in a wheel barrow. I asked him about it and he told me he usually uses swimming pool bleach, it is stronger.

A friend of mine lives perhaps a 1/4 mile from the harbor at Bodega and frequently is overcome with the strong smell of bleach.

perhaps 7-8 commercial crab pots (they weigh 70-100 lbs., I leave them above the high water mark now)

It appears the same person who wrote the book on sustainable oyster farming in West Marin (where stewards of the land have deep respect for the waters they ply), also wrote the book on how to be a commercial fisherman who is “extremely conscious”.

Meriam-Webster defines conscious thusly: awake and able to understand what is happening around you.

This past year, California adopted rules used by Washington and Oregon with the hope of avoiding the mad dash to race out and catch every single crab as quickly as possible so nobody else can catch it. The jury is still out on whether it has had the intended effect.

Something needs to be done to reduce the huge and devastating effect wrought on the sea by these greedy, often drug addled fishermen. No doubt fishing is a difficult and dangerous job. When the name of the game is get it all now, any means are used to stay awake for days on end. I’ve been told that sitting in the back of the boat, pulling pots, breathing diesel fumes for hours and hours on end is how it is. If you want to stay awake, you take whatever you need: coffee, speed, meth.

Not all fishermen are greedy, nor drug addicts – likely a small fraction. But, with the amount of garbage left in the sea (who knows how many hundreds, thousands of miles of nylon rope lay on the bottom offshore), and on our local beaches (see below), we need more and stronger enforcement of the laws. We also need fishing regulations designed to reduce the “mad dash to catch it all now.” Perhaps of greatest importance, these conscious commercial fishermen need to self-monitor their ranks. And I don’t mean pulling the other guys’ pots, stealing his crabs, cutting the rope and dumping 25, 50 or 100 pots to the bottom just because he put his pots too close to “your” spot. I do mean not dumping bleach and bleach bottles in the sea, when you change out light bulbs, don’t toss the burned out bulb into the sea. Don’t put your gear where it is likely to be cut by tugs. Don’t leave your abandoned gear all over local beaches (or national seashores), come pick up your mess, and tell your fellow fisherman to not make a mess! Salmon fishermen need to stop shooting seals and sea lions.

This winter, as you enjoy your cracked crab, remember the hard work put in by fishermen, as well as the huge impact on this one and only planet we all call home.

Perhaps crab should be $40/pound, along with mandatory drug testing for all fishermen!

After looking over the images below, you’ll surely agree that “Commercial fishermen have played a very active role in causing lasting environmental damage.”


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Human trash collected from Point Reyes beaches during six visits

Human trash collected from Point Reyes beaches during six visits


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Commercial crab trap tags. Recognize anyone you know? I do.

Commercial crab trap tags. Recognize anyone you know? I do.

Vacation, to leave one’s brain at home

Click the words above “Vacation, to leave one’s brain at home” to see this entire post.

After a summer working in Yosemite Valley many years ago, the word vacation took on new meaning for me.

Watching tourons, as we called them, hacking down living trees to burn, stopping bus-sized RV’s in the middle of the road to get out and gape at a deer, hiking in 4-inch heels to vernal falls – all activities I witnessed again and again.

Imagine dealing with people like this on a daily basis and you can understand how an NPS employee might take on a misanthropic pallor.

Labor day is upon us. And so are the throngs of city dwellers eager for one last glimpse of nature. What a shame it is so many of them are unable to give nature even a sliver of respect.

While standing in line at The Bovine after plucking dozens of bottles and cans out of the dumpsters and cleaning both beaches at Drakes and Limantour, a lycra-clad fellow walked up and dumped a large paper bag FULL of bottles and cans into the trash bin by the door.

Kindly, I said “You know, there is a recycle bin right over there by your bike.”

He stopped, turned, glared and spat at me with a thick German/Austrian accent “Vye dont you mind your own fucking business!”

“Seeing as how I live out here, the state of our planet IS my fucking business. So won’t you put those recyclables in that bin over by your bike.”

He begrudgingly did, telling me “You could have said please.”

Seeing what has been left at the Limantour main trail-head, along with the above exchange, makes me think that humans have no business on this planet.

Happy holidays. Think kind thoughts for the 4 young men caught in the water at the mouth of The Estero, rescue/recovery underway as I write.

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

Items left at Drakes and Limantour beach over Labor Day Weekend

Items left at Drakes and Limantour beach over Labor Day Weekend


Dog shit, bagged by dog owner, left on beach for the rest of us to enjoy.

Dog shit, bagged by dog owner, left on beach for the rest of us to enjoy.


Dog shit, bagged by dog owner, left on beach for the rest of us to enjoy.

Dog shit, bagged by dog owner, left on beach for the rest of us to enjoy.


Items left at Drakes and Limantour beach over Labor Day Weekend

Items left at Drakes and Limantour beach over Labor Day Weekend


Trash and recycle bins at Limantour. A large dumpster is 80 feet away.

Trash and recycle bins at Limantour. A large dumpster is 80 feet away.


Trash and recycle bins at Limantour. A large dumpster is 80 feet away.

Trash and recycle bins at Limantour. A large dumpster is 80 feet away.