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 – part 19, Abandoned oyster bags, same as it ever was

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

Last week, in addition to monitoring the progress of the removal of the illegal dike along Walker Creek as it enters Tomales Bay, I engaged in a regular activity when boating on Tomales Bay, picking up abandoned oyster grow-out bags.

This day I found nearly fifty. The map below shows where I found the bags this day, as well as where I left them piled up (see red arrows).

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coastodian cleanup map from 2015.03.06

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A map showing the location of the bags where found, as well as where I stacked them so that the growers might come out and recover them will be posted here on Friday [I neglected to upload it along with the images of the trash].

The images that follow show that many of these bags have been there for weeks, or months. One sees pickleweed or salt grass growing through the bag, holding it tightly in place, where, if it were not for me to yank it out of the vegetation, it would likely become part of the environment forever.

This speaks to the urgent need of the growers to do weekly patrols of their leases and a large area near the leases to recover the scores and scores of bags that go missing each week.

The banner image shows the many pieces of plastic coated wire carelessly dropped to the mud after serving the needs of the short-sighted oyster farmer. Note that the plastic insulation has begun disintegrating. This plastic will eventually enter the food chain of the very oysters being raised.

You can see a larger version of the wire image below. These wires were collected in less than 15 minutes as I walked along two rows of rusting iron racks that once held oysters in place to feed on the algae. These two rows were a fraction of the total rows of racks. So what you see is a tiny fraction of the plastic coated copper wire dropped as so much litter. These racks are located in the area leased by Point Reyes Oyster Company, lease M-430-17.

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

long ago abandoned grow-out bag

long ago abandoned grow-out bag

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bundle of 17 bags abandoned north of Walker Cr., east of Preston Point

bundle of 17 bags abandoned north of Walker Cr., east of Preston Point

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bundle of 17 bags abandoned north of Walker Cr., east of Preston Point

bundle of 17 bags abandoned north of Walker Cr., east of Preston Point

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Stanway rack board, I find these all over Tomales Bay, used primarily by Hog Island Oysters

Stanway rack board, I find these all over Tomales Bay, used primarily by Hog Island Oysters

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Abandoned 25" TV tube, full of lead

Abandoned 25″ TV tube, full of lead

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TV inner workings

TV inner workings

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TV inner workings

TV inner workings

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RJames-1397

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RJames-1398

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RJames-1399

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RJames-1400

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RJames-1401

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RJames-1402

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RJames-1403

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deteriorating plastic-coated copper wire recovered from Point Reyes Oyster Company lease

deteriorating plastic-coated copper wire recovered from Point Reyes Oyster Company lease

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deteriorating plastic-coated copper wire recovered from Point Reyes Oyster Company lease

deteriorating plastic-coated copper wire recovered from Point Reyes Oyster Company lease

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deteriorating plastic-coated copper wire recovered from Point Reyes Oyster Company lease

deteriorating plastic-coated copper wire recovered from Point Reyes Oyster Company lease

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deteriorating plastic-coated copper wire recovered from Point Reyes Oyster Company lease

deteriorating plastic-coated copper wire recovered from Point Reyes Oyster Company lease

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deteriorating plastic-coated copper wire recovered from Point Reyes Oyster Company lease

deteriorating plastic-coated copper wire recovered from Point Reyes Oyster Company lease

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This bundle of Tomales Bay Oyster Company bags was found a 1/2 mile up Walker Creek buried in the mud mid-channel, east of the Tomales Bay Oyster Company lease

This bundle of Tomales Bay Oyster Company bags was found a 1/2 mile up Walker Creek buried in the mud mid-channel, east of the Tomales Bay Oyster Company lease

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IMG_1382.cw

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 Tomales Bay Oyster Company workers leave these hay hooks all over the place in Tomales Bay, I find them in the mud, rusted in half, or whole like this one

Tomales Bay Oyster Company workers leave these hay hooks all over the place in Tomales Bay, I find them in the mud, rusted in half, or whole like this one

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PVC pipe, grow-out bag and rope collected on or near the Tomales Bay Oyster Company lease

PVC pipe, grow-out bag and rope collected on or near the Tomales Bay Oyster Company lease

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PVC pipe, grow-out bag and rope collected on or near the Tomales Bay Oyster Company lease

PVC pipe, grow-out bag and rope collected on or near the Tomales Bay Oyster Company lease

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PVC pipes, nearly buried in the mud. The TBOC leases have these pipes in varying states of buried-ness ALL OVER their leases.

PVC pipes, nearly buried in the mud. The TBOC leases have these pipes in varying states of buried-ness ALL OVER their leases.

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RJames-1404

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RJames-1405

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RJames-1406

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RJames-1407

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RJames-1408

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RJames-1409

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RJames-1410

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Abandoned bag, buried in the mud. There are likely thousands of these buried beneath the mud surface

Abandoned bag, buried in the mud. There are likely thousands of these buried beneath the mud surface

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RJames-1412

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Abandoned bag, buried in the mud. There are likely thousands of these buried beneath the mud surface

Abandoned bag, buried in the mud. There are likely thousands of these buried beneath the mud surface

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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 18.1, Walker Creek mess, construction

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

Yesterday I paid a visit to the mouth of Walker Creek where it enters Tomales Bay.

There are 4 growers that extract profits in the form of oysters in this area.

Storms regularly rip their equipment out and paint it all over Tomales Bay, and the entire ocean.

These bags become lodged in the mud and pickleweed and are buried, to be ground into plastic bits forever.

The farmers must walk these areas every month, if not more often, to ensure the mess they make gets cleaned up before being buried in the mud and pickleweed.

The regulating agencies must exercise their authority and ensure that laws are being observed, fining those that continue to break the laws enacted to protect the environment.


This post will be updated, so come back to see more of the damage caused to our fragile planet by oyster farming.

Volume warning, turn your sound down

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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 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….


Click on image to see larger version

©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


Click on image to see larger version

©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


Click on image to see larger version

©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


Click on image to see larger version

©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


Click on image to see larger version

©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


Click on image to see larger version

©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


Click on image to see larger version

©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


Click on image to see larger version

©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.


Click on image to see larger version

©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


Click on image to see larger version

©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


Click on image to see larger version

©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.


Click on image to see larger version

©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


Click on image to see larger version

©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.


Click on image to see larger version

©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


Click on image to see larger version

©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


Click on image to see larger version

©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


Click on image to see larger version

©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


Click on image to see larger version

©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


Click on image to see larger version

©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


Click on image to see larger version

©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


Click on image to see larger version

©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


Click on image to see larger version

©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


Click on image to see larger version

©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


Click on image to see larger version

©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


Click on image to see larger version

©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


Click on image to see larger version

©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


Click on image to see larger version

©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org


Click on image to see larger version

©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.


Next installment may be found here.

Previous related post may be found here.

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