Save our Tomales Bay – 36 Please write Calif. Fish & Game Commission NOW

Oyster farming in Tomales Bay has been taking place for well over one hundred years. The nature of farming oysters means it is often done in hard to get to places, where common citizens seldom venture. During this lengthy time, a variety of growers with varying levels of respect for the environment, and poor to no oversight by the agencies tasked with protecting the coastal waters have left a legacy of trash throughout Tomales Bay that few people know is out there. Look here to see the many messes I speak of.
 

In the coming months, a number of oyster growing leases are up for renewal. It is critical that these leases, written decades ago, be updated to include Best Management Practices and that the loopholes in cleanup escrow accounts be closed so that each lease is clear on how Tomales Bay is to be cared for and the escrow funds can and will be used if need be for cleanup as intended.

 

These requests are not critical of Hog Island Oyster growing practices (whose lease is up for renewal at the 9-10 December CFGC meeting) and are intended as improvements to all leases for all growers. Hog Island is an exceptional grower that works hard to minimize lost gear and reduce the negative impacts of oyster growing on Tomales Bay. We want ALL growers held to the same improved standards and request that all future leases and lease renewals include the following language. Tomales Bay deserves improved protection from all oyster growers.

 

We also want the Fish & Game Commission and Department of Fish & Wildlife to use their role as “landlord” and “law enforcer” more effectively. Updating the lease language is a good first step and shows they intend to represent the best interests of the people of California. If California is to have one agency that both promotes oyster farming, as well as protects nature from oyster farming, that agency needs to take more seriously the protection part of their mission.

 

Lease M-430-15 held by Hog Island Oyster Company is up for renewal at the California Fish & Game Commission (CFGC) meeting in San Diego on 9-10 December.

 

Please write the Executive Director of the CFGC and request that all new leases include the Best Management Practices described here and that loopholes concerning the cleanup escrow account be closed.

 

 

Please write this individual now! He needs to hear from you before these meetings.

Mr. Sonke Mastrup
Executive Director
California Fish and Game Commission
P.O. Box 944209
Sacramento, CA 94244-2090

fgc@fgc.ca.gov
phone 916-653-4899

 

Director Mastrup, please include the following Best Management practices in all new leases, sub-lease agreements and lease renewals.

Best Management Practices Required of Tomales Bay Oyster Farmers

 

  1. Each grower must use uniquely identifiable gear
    Collected abandoned gear must have an easily known owner so that habitual litterers may be dealt with individually. To identify gear, growers must use unique bag colors and unique copper wire colors.

 

  1. Have 2 staff positions whose sole role is litter recovery
    One person that does nothing but litter patrol and cleanup. A second rotating position so that all employees see the issues and learn to reduce litter during daily operations.

 

  1. Growers must continually strive to improve gear design to reduce lost gear
    Conduct yearly meetings with third party monitor(s) to learn what is working, what is not.

 

  1. Replace single-use items such as litter-making zip-ties with reusable items such as stainless halibut clips
    If copper wire is used, each grower has assigned colors. Growers will recover all copper wire once bags are collected at harvest.

 

  1. Prohibit the use of plastic wrapped blue foam and other easily degradable floats
    Floats must be durable and resistant to pecking by birds. Floats must be securely attached to the oyster bag.

 

  1. Prohibit the current practice of tossing out loose bags at high tide
    All bags must be securely connected in a string to prevent drifting and loss during the time between mass deployment and being tied to anchor lines.

 

  1. Prohibit leaving of tools and materials leases, inter-tidal areas, and all nearby areas.
  2. Growers must remove all uninstalled PVC pipes, gloves, zip-ties, copper wire, ropes, hay hooks, bags and water bottles from lease areas each day.

 

  1. If a growing idea does not work, remove it promptly within 30 days.
    Abandoned pilings, posts, PVC, machinery and other debris left in and around Tomales Bay are no longer allowed.

 

  1. At a minimum, growers must ensure monthly patrols of lease areas and shoreline for lost gear
    Patrols will be increased to twice a month during high winds or storm events. Effective patrols must include walking shorelines and wetlands, and kayaks or other craft should be used for hard-to-reach areas to avoid damaging eelgrass with propellers.

 

 

Director Mastrup, please have third party, objective cleanup estiamtes done to determine the actual cleanup cost of all infrastructure used by oyster growers in ALL growing areas of California (Tomales Bay, Morro Bay, Humboldt Bay etc.). The Commission has made promises to address this since April, yet nothing has been communicated to interested parties on any progress in this very important matter.

 

 

Tomales Bay deserves strong protection so that future generations can enjoy this jewel.

Tomales Bay deserves strong protection so that future generations can enjoy this jewel.


 

 

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Next related post may be found here.

Previous related post may be found here.

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

Save our Tomales Bay – 35 Legacy oyster farming trash we want removed NOW.

Highline pilings awaiting removal

Highline pilings awaiting removal

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Highline pilings and rusty iron racks awaiting removal

Highline pilings and rusty iron racks awaiting removal

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Partially removed, still more awaiting removal TBOC

Partially removed, still more awaiting removal TBOC

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Partially removed, still more awaiting removal TBOC

Partially removed, still more awaiting removal TBOC

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Winches from highline awaiting removal

Winches from highline awaiting removal

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Winches from highline awaiting removal

Winches from highline awaiting removal

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Pilings from many decades ago near Tom's Point awaiting removal

Pilings from many decades ago near Tom’s Point awaiting removal

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Abandoned anchors blighting Tomales Bay

Abandoned anchors blighting Tomales Bay

Removed! - Thank you Hog Island Oyster Company

Removed! – Thank you Hog Island Oyster Company

Removed! - Thank you TBOC

Removed! – Thank you TBOC

Removed! - Thank you TBOC

Removed! – Thank you TBOC

Removed! - Thank you TBOC

Removed! – Thank you TBOC

Removed! - Thank you TBOC

Removed! – Thank you TBOC

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Removed! - Thank you TBOC

Removed! – Thank you TBOC

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Rusty iron racks litter many parts of Tomales Bay

Rusty iron racks litter many parts of Tomales Bay

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Removed! - Thank you Hog Island Oyster Company

Removed! – Thank you Hog Island Oyster Company

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Failed artificial reefs near Tomassini Point awaiting removal

Failed artificial reefs near Tomassini Point awaiting removal. Removed – Thank you Sea Grant!

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Failed artificial reefs near Tom's Point awaiting removal

Failed artificial reefs near Tom’s Point awaiting removal. Removed – Thank you Sea Grant!

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Next related post may be found here.

Previous related post may be found here.

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

Save our Tomales Bay – 34 King sized tides, king sized mess

Please click on the above text “Save our Tomales Bay – 34 King sized tides, king sized mess” to see this entire post

Wednesday was the King Tide of the year. A full moon, aligned with sun and earth create conditions that produce the highest and lowest tides of the year. With a near non-existent swell, a perfect day to be on Tomales Bay.

Looking west across Tomales Bay at Inverness Ridge during the King Tide of 25 Nov 2015.

Looking west across Tomales Bay at Inverness Ridge during the King Tide of 25 Nov 2015.

These high tides allow me and my boat to easily access areas with high concentrations of plastic trash.

On my way south while in the Tomales Bay Ecological Preserve [where ducks must be careful], I spotted what I thought was a white plastic bag. Grounding my boat on the mud near one of the “blinds” used by duck hunters, I waded across knee deep water in my wetsuit towards the item of interest, taking care to lift my large padded camera bag strapped to my chest away from the splashing saltwater.

Alas, as I neared the bright white item, it became clear it was only a raft of pure white foam, drifting south with the flood tide. Laughing at myself, I turned back towards the boat to continue my venture to the south. As I got to my boat and maneuvered myself to drop my butt into the seat, I stepped off the submerged mudflat, into the channel. I bobbed up and down, a champagne cork, my feet gaining no purchase on the bottom. I cried out in alarm as the water reached halfway up the black appendage strapped to my front, cradling my baby, the camera. Up and down I bobbed, more and more alarmed I became that my camera would be reduced to junk. Pushing upward on the black blob to keep at bay the watery tentacles splashing all around, I had to let go of the boat, toss the paddle to higher ground and pull myself ashore. Which I did without problem. The immediate danger of a swamped camera handled, I grabbed the paddle and started sloshing south to track my now drifting boat as it carried on towards Bolinas without me.

Splashing as I ran in calf deep water, occasionally jumping over deep sub-channels, I put 30 meters between myself and the approaching boat. This gave me time to remove most of my wet upper garments and the camera bag. I was preparing to go for a swim and haul the boat ashore. As I disassembled the camera bag and all the hydrophobic items therein, it became clear that the boat would soon come to me, within reach of the shore. So I continued to get all parts precious laid out in the sun on the bird-pellet, fox dung festooned log that would be my rest stop for the next hour. As the sun dried my camera, jacket and bag, the boat came right to me and was soon tied to my drying log, where it bobbed and tried to get away more than once as the wind buffeted it, me and my drying items.

Lessons learned from this: have more dry towels in dry bags, watch were I walk, bring a wind-shell always.

Have a look below at what I plucked from the southern corners of Tomales Bay.

Four more tires!

One, only one oyster grow out bag [me thinks the growers are paying more attention and losing less gear!]

Plus the usual assortment of plastic wrappers, cans, bottles, tennis balls, shotgun paraphernalia.

These images are presented not for self-promotion. Rather, they are to show people who think of Tomales Bay as this untarnished jewel [jewel yes, untarnished, hardly], that our planet is being trashed by us, some of us much more than others. If we are to slow down the yearly flow of 8 million metric tons of plastic that enters the oceans each year, we need to radically change how we live our lives. So Mr. Green Airstream, please continue to pocket your butts, I’ll continue sharing what I find in Tomales Bay, whether that is abandoned oyster gear, cigarette butts, or Common Snipe and Leopard Sharks. See this comment for background on why I felt compelled to write this last paragraph.

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

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Debris removed from Southern Tomales Bay on 25 Nov. ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Debris removed from Southern Tomales Bay on 25 Nov. ©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Three tires is a full load it seems.  ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Three tires is a full load it seems. ©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Four tires is indeed a full load. All on the rim, meaning very heavy.  ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Four tires is indeed a full load. All on the rim, meaning very heavy. ©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Placed within easy reach, awaiting pickup, hopfully by the owner of that grow-out bag....Tod.  ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Placed within easy reach, awaiting pickup, hopfully by the owner of that grow-out bag….Tod. ©Richard James – coastodian.org

Speaking of tires, still waiting to hear from someone on who to contact to remove the hundreds of tires blighting Marconi Cove. A big shout out to Hog Island Oyster Company for pulling out dozens from the boat ramp area!

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©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Debris removed from Southern Tomales Bay on 25 Nov. ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Debris removed from Southern Tomales Bay on 25 Nov. ©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Debris removed from Southern Tomales Bay on 25 Nov. ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Debris removed from Southern Tomales Bay on 25 Nov. ©Richard James – coastodian.org

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How about biodegradable corn starch shotgun shells and shot cups (AKA wads).   ©Richard James - coastodian.org

How about biodegradable corn starch shotgun shells and shot cups (AKA wads). ©Richard James – coastodian.org

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How about recycling containers, or, using a reusable water container?   ©Richard James - coastodian.org

How about recycling containers, or, using a reusable water container? ©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Hope the party was happy. Wildlife has another thought on this senseless tradition of releasing balloons. ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Hope the party was happy. Wildlife has another thought on this senseless tradition of releasing balloons. ©Richard James – coastodian.org

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©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Lots of unhappy (or lazy) dogs that failed to retrieve these balls. ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Lots of unhappy (or lazy) dogs that failed to retrieve these balls. ©Richard James – coastodian.org

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No shots were fired in the taking of this Pintail. ©Richard James - coastodian.org

No shots were fired in the taking of this Pintail. ©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Next relate post may be found here.

Previous related post may be found here.

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

Save our Tomales Bay – Part 33 Litter, litter everywhere, not a bite to eat

Please click on the above text “Litter, litter everywhere, not a bite to eat” to see this entire post

Gorgeous day to be out on Tomales Bay.

Tomales Bay - looking south. Please pardon iphone image on rocking boat. ©Richard James coastodian.org

Tomales Bay – looking south. Please pardon iphone image on rocking boat. ©Richard James coastodian.org

Flat water and light wind made for delicious paddling. The water was pretty turbid from the recent winds, so visibility down below was poor, even with polarized glasses. So I only saw clouds of mud kicked up by rays and sharks, instead of seeing actual rays and sharks.

Did see eight common snipe (or at least that is what they looked like to me). Have not seen many of this bird, they like to keep a low profile. I’ll bring a long lens next time I head over to this area of the bay and try to record some images to share.

Found three tires, two of them on the rim, one of which was pretty well ensconced in poison oak (so I left it for later). Speaking of tires, a big shout out to Hogi Island Oyster Company for collecting dozens of abandoned tires from the boat launch at Marconi Cove. It looks a lot better there. Thank you. Don’t de-spare, there are still plenty of tires despoiling the shore at the south end of Marconi Cove. Perhaps 150 or more.

tires littering Tomales Bay at Marconi Cove.

tires littering Tomales Bay at Marconi Cove.

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tires littering Tomales Bay at Marconi Cove.

tires littering Tomales Bay at Marconi Cove.

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Two oyster bags, full of medium oysters, all dead. As well as a shellfish purse full of mussels. I think somebody must have “borrowed” this from up by Walker Creek and moved it south for a personal mussel farm, as it had a custom float attached.

Also found my second paddle which I plan to give to a friend.

Find of the day was an intact vintage Pepsi Cola bottle.

See below for the sadly large haul for a short day on the water.

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

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Litter from southern Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

Litter from southern Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

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oyster farmers litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

oyster farmers litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

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car owners litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

car owners litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

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car owners litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

car owners litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

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oyster farmers litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

oyster farmers litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

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dog owners and bottle smashers litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

dog owners and bottle smashers litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

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Drugstore shoppers and skin protectors litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

Drugstore shoppers and skin protectors litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

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Duck hunters litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

Duck hunters litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

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Rope owners and junkfood eaters littter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

Rope owners and junkfood eaters littter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

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Shoeless people litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

Shoeless people litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

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plastic lovers and frisbee throwers litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

plastic lovers and frisbee throwers litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

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Thirsty people litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

Thirsty people litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

Thirsty people litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

Thirsty people litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

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Thirsty people litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

Thirsty people litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

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Thirsty people litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

Thirsty people litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

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oyster farmers and foam lovers litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

oyster farmers and foam lovers litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

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New signage in Tomales Bay ©RIchard James coastodian.org

New signage in Tomales Bay ©RIchard James coastodian.org

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Next related post may be found here.

Previous related post may be found here.

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

Save our Tomales Bay – Part 32 roadside fishermen trashing Tomales Bay continues

Please click on the words above “Save our Tomales Bay – Part 32 roadside fishermen trashing Tomales Bay continues” to see this entire post.

Two months ago I wrote about the mess left by roadside fisher-people along route 1 near Tony’s Seafood.

Since then the place has been pretty clean, no large bait boxes or smashed beer bottles to speak of, a great improvement.

Last weekend on my way north to document the removal of the unpermitted structures built by oyster farmers in the Bay, I stopped and went after the small, but no less toxic items, cigarette butts and fishing line.

Picked up 346 butts or filters and enough line and hardware to hook a striped bass (I did not say land one).

If you know people that fish in the area, please ask them kindly to be sure and take away all the items they bring with them to enjoy our lovely coastal environment. Leaving it on the shore is disrespectful, illegal and pretty damn rude. Shall we visit their home and dump trash on their cherished spaces? Ok then!

Leaving this mess degrades the very beauty they come for, and causes great harm to the non-human animals that call Tomales Bay home.

This same logic applies to the boat launch area at Miller Park (Nick’s Cove).

There are thousands of pieces of micro-trash left behind by fishermen, boaters and others who use this public space to recreate.

See what happens to small pieces of plastic that humans dump in the sea, or litter the land with, only to be washed to the sea….

Dead Albatross, killed by ingesting plastic -  by Chris Jordan - where disposable lighters end up.

Dead Albatross, killed by ingesting plastic – by Chris Jordan – where disposable lighters end up.

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The dumpster area is routinely besieged by ravens, crows and raccoons who scour the open dumpster for food, then paint the hillside with plastic bags, food wrappers, fish bait etc.

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

346 cigarette butts, fishing line, beer bottle caps, food wrappers left by fishermen near Tony's Seafood.

346 cigarette butts, fishing line, beer bottle caps, food wrappers left by fishermen near Tony’s Seafood.

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Fishing line left at Nick's Cove boat launch area

Fishing line left at Nick’s Cove boat launch area

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Fishing line left by fishermen near Tony's Seafood along route 1.

Fishing line left by fishermen near Tony’s Seafood along route 1.

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Comfy, though questionable seating installed at Marconi Cove, along with beer can and oyster shucker packaging. C'mon people, pick up after yerselves!

Comfy, though questionable seating installed at Marconi Cove, along with beer can and oyster shucker packaging. C’mon people, pick up after yerselves!

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Next related post may be found here.

Previous related post may be found here.

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