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 Tod 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 Tod, 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

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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

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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.

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

  1. This makes me feel physically ill . . . all my life living near and on the coast I’ve marveled at the abandoned oyster beds . . . how can people think this is OK? Thank you for having the courage to take a stand Richard . . .

  2. Hello Gordon and all

    My partners and I are one of two Beachwatch teams that survey Tomasini Creek 7-06.
    There is no way to sugar coat the conditions shown in the photos, which were taken near the TBOC picnic area, and are surely the result of oyster farm operations. I hope something is done soon to improve the habitat, the views and natural ambiance.
    However, I want to say that Todd and Heidi, our contacts at TBOC couldn’t be more friendly and co-operative whenever we meet. They let us park in the limited parking area, and they always seem interested in, and supportive of FMSA’s efforts and goals.
    The present owners acquired the property, in the condition it’s in, not all that long ago, and if my feelings about them are correct, it won’t be long before they get around to pulling the detritus of decades of neglect out of the bay they seem to love as much as we do. It’s a huge job, but I think Todd is the man to do it, and I hope we can work together to achieve the goal. Todd’s a good guy, and he deserves the chance.

  3. Kirk,

    It’s fine–even important–to send the oyster company’s manager feedback–including criticism, questions, and suggestions.

    But perhaps you could find a different word than “barrage,” which has military connotations. Given the pain that West Marin has experienced in recent years, I believe we’d benefit by finding non-aggressive ways of talking to each other regarding environmental and other problems. Even little things like careful word choices can help West Marin community heal.

    Speaking to the issue: I hope that someone from the oyster company will respond to Richard’s photo essay. Perhaps a dialogue would lead to positive action.

    Murray
    Inverness

    • It’s been just short of a year that Richard has been dialoging about this issue and so far nothing has been offered by any of the oyster companies to resolve this issue. It’s all well and good to enter into a amiable dialog but as we’re stepping lightly around this issue more and more plastic is floating out into the ocean . . . I believe that Tomales Bay Oyster Company along with Hog Island and others could rally the ocean loving community and do a trash haul out then feed everyone. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to come up with creative ideas. There are an endless number of solutions to this problem but the oyster companies haven’t bothered to get creative. I think an email campaign is a great idea. Just remember to keep it respectful.

  4. I’ve lived in Marin for over 30 years and these photos are stunning and disheartening, but not fully surprising. Those who commercialize Nature with little or no thought to the fact they do not own Nature, need to be put out of business. Those companies with some ethics, who do their part in cleaning up the mess, should be supported. “It’s our Right” is an arrogant ignorance that cannot be allowed. Thank you for your important work of documentation!

    • Hi Chris,

      Thanks so much for stopping by and for your comments.

      I agree, companies and people [two different things here folks) that do this should not be rewarded, actually they should be punished.

      As you may have seen in my blog postings, I have been at this for over a year now, sharing the behind the scenes mess of oyster farming.

      I have spoken directly with the folks at Hog Island, Tomales Bay and Drakes Bay.

      Some encouraging conversations, and lately, some encouraging action.

      The folks at Tomales Bay are really getting after it. Those images of long abandoned PVC tubes and plastic racks – half or more of that has now been removed from the bay. And Todd the owner assures me that the rest will be remove too! He is busy tending next years’ oysters and will get back on the cleanup efforts soon.

      I hope the folks at Hog Island follow through on their promise to have Bay-wide cleanups 4 times a year. That seems to have fallen by the wayside as far as I can tell.

      I’ve been in touch with the person responsible for monitoring mariculture along the California coast about all of this. From her, I’ve learned that the language in the oyster lease agreements with the California Dept. of Fish & Wildlife is quite weak about how monies set aside in an escrow account for cleanup can actually be used for cleanup of messes such as you have seen here.

      This language will be updated so that it has teeth.

      People making money from the commons need to take care of the commons. Those that treat it poorly need to be penalized.

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