New Application to cultivate Shellfish in Tomales Bay

Click on the words above “New Application to cultivate Shellfish in Tomales Bay” to see this entire post.

On Thursday February 9th at a regular meeting of the California Fish & Game Commission (CFGC) in Rohnert Park, the CFGC received an application from Robert Brodsky and his company, San Andreas Shellfish. The application is to lease, from the public trust, approximately 45 acres of state water bottoms for the cultivation of shellfish within Tomales Bay. The application may be viewed here.

Below you can see one of the maps from the application that shows the area the application wishes to lease in bright yellow, superimposed upon a photograph of the area from above.

To see a larger version, click the image, on new page click the “1981×1180” above image and below the word donate

The general area up for consideration in the lease is the eastern portion of the bay between Tom’s Point and Lawson’s Landing.

The species which Mr. Brodsky would like to be able to cultivate are: Pacific Oyster, Atlantic Oyster, Kumamoto Oyster, Mediterranean Mussels, Goeduck Clam and Purple Hinged Scallop.

If granted, the lease could be a maximum of 25 years, per Fish and Game Code 15405.

Before a lease is granted, the following must occur:

1 The CFGC will refer the application to the California Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW). CDFW will evaluate the application and make a recommendation on whether or not the proposed activities are in the public interest (per Fish and Game Code 15404)

Once the evaluation is complete, the CDFW will provide a recommendation to the Commission.

2 CFGC will place the item on the agenda of the next CFGC meeting. The public will be able to comment on the item at this time regarding public interest.

If the CFGC determines that the area applied for is available for lease and that the lease would be in the public interest, CFGC shall publish a notice that the area is being considered for leasing. No aquaculture lease for state water bottoms will be approved until the Commission has held a public hearing at least 90 days after notice thereof has been published in a newspaper of general circulation within the county involved.

In addition, California requires state and local agencies to perform environmental impact analyses when granting permits. Potential environmental impacts are addressed primarily through the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review of the proposed facility. Although not a permit, CEQA compliance is mandatory for state, local, and other agencies subject to the jurisdiction of California to evaluate the environmental implications of their actions.

After the CEQA process is complete, the CFGC will again:
3 Place the item on the agenda of a CFGC meeting where the Public may comment on the CEQA evaluation and final approval of the lease.

At this time, the CFGC will make a decision on whether to certify the CEQA document and whether to approve the lease.

Should a lease be approved, the applicant will also need a variety of permits and other authorizations, including from the Coastal Commission and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Crab fisherman on strike for $3 a pound, should hold out for $6! Seafood tax a healthy idea.

Click on the text above “Crab fisherman on strike for $3 a pound…” to see this entire post.

Another crab season is upon us, like last year it is far from “normal”. But then again, with respect to the global environment, normal is undergoing radical changes.

Last year the season was delayed for months due to toxic levels of domoic acid in crab flesh (along with many other sea creatures).

This year the agency tasked with regulating crab fishing, the California Department of Fish & Wildlife has sequentially opened small regions of the California Coast to fishing as domoic acid levels drop below safe thresholds.

Instead of one price negotiation at the beginning of the season, wholesale buyers have decided to hold new talks for each region that opens up for fishing.

Bodega Bay fisherman are none too happy about this and have gone on strike. Fisherman want $3 a pound, buyers are offering $2.75 a pound.

Crab fishing is a boom and bust proposition, a few good years followed by a few not so good years. Fisherman try to offset these declines with a good salmon season, though “good salmon season” is a bit of a contradiction in terms of late.

Humans have for decades damned rivers, denying these ancient fish the spawning grounds they need, diverted water from rivers to give farmers water so they can grow almonds, cotton, pistachios and other high margin crops in what was originally the California desert. Pesticide and Herbicide use, clear-cut logging and creek-side construction have further degraded the environment to the point of near extinction for many historically huge salmon runs.

Both Salmon runs and crab populations are under attack, by humans!

Instead of asking for $3 a pound, I advocate crab fisherman hold out for $6.

Give fisherman $3 for each pound and put the other $3 into a fund used to undo the damage we humans inflict on the sea with our insatiable appetite for, well, damn near everything.

Think of it like a carbon tax. The new crab tax.

Set aside money for people like myself and the legions of others that walk our beaches picking up the mess of plastic ropes, plastic bait jars, plastic foam floats, crab traps left on our beaches each crab season to be ground in to a plastic soup by wave action. A soup that becomes part of the food chain of the planet See this post from two years ago for images of what crab fishing does to Point Reyes National Seashore each year.

Human trash collected from Point Reyes beaches during six visits

Research on how to collect crabs without endangering whales could be funded with this crab tax.

Humpback Whale entangled in crab fishing gear Photo: E. Lyman/HWS and NOAA

Humpback Whale entangled in crab fishing gear

Thankfully California has for the first time enacted a law that allows crab fisherman to collect abandoned gear after the season closes to reduce these horrible entanglements (and often deaths) caused to whales and other sea-life.

Reports of recent entanglements:

After huge blue whale gets tangled in crab lines, Californians struggle with elaborate rescue mission

Daring rescue of whale off Farallones

While we are thinking clearly and proposing that human harvesting activities pay the true cost to the planet, let’s double the price of salmon and oysters, clams and mussels. Set aside money to be used to clean up the messes we have made, and then figure out how to stop making new messes as we feed ourselves.

Four damns are soon to come down on the Klammath River, opening up over 300 miles of historic spawning grounds to a salmon run completely wiped out 80 years ago. Let’s restore the natural river habitat that nature found worked, instead of trying to use science to build fast growing salmon.
Another view of this troubling news here.

In a few months the California Dept. of Fish & Wildlife will be holding a meeting to discuss Best Management Practices (BMP) for oyster growers in California. A long needed set of common sense rules for an industry that has historically been operated in a “wild west” sense, with lax or little oversight. Please watch this space for an announcement on where and when that meeting takes place so you can voice your support for common sense rules in all leases for use of public lands/waters to profit by private companies. Send me your email address if you’d like to be notified.

Let’s make sure that Tomales Bay looks more like this

Great and snowy egrets in flight. Tomales Bay, mouth of Walker Creek.

.

Instead of this

abandoned plastic trays

.

Tomales Bay Triptych

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

.
Click on an image to see a larger version.

Oyster workers tend to bags of oysters growing on the mudflats of Tomales Bay near the mouth of Walker Creek. ©Richard James

.

A lone photographer at work on the mudflats ©Richard James

.

Sunlight refracted by raindrops, otherwise known as a rainbow over the hills east of Tomales Bay ©Richard James

.

Birders of Tomales Bay – 2016 Christmas Bird Count

Click on the words above “Birders of Tomales Bay – 2016 Christmas Bird Count” to see this entire post.

Today was the 47th annual Point Reyes Christmas Bird Count.

Today was the 1st annual Point Reyes Birdcounter Count.

Word at the dinner (unofficial) was 196 species of birds were spotted today.
I saw a few dozen Birdcounters, in a variety of plumage.

Enjoy.

Click on an image to see a larger version.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Tomales Bay Triptych – Preston Point Sheep Grazing

Click an image for a larger version.

Do sheep belong in a wetlands area?

Sheep grazng on wetlands at Preston Point. ~ 400 meters away are millions of oysters growing in the mudflats.

Sheep grazng on wetlands at Preston Point. ~ 400 meters away are millions of oysters growing in the mudflats.

.

Sheep grazng on wetlands at Preston Point. ~ 400 meters away are millions of oysters growing in the mudflats.

Sheep grazng on wetlands at Preston Point. ~ 400 meters away are millions of oysters growing in the mudflats.

.

Sheep grazng on wetlands at Preston Point. ~ 400 meters away are millions of oysters growing in the mudflats.

Sheep grazng on wetlands at Preston Point. ~ 400 meters away are millions of oysters growing in the mudflats.

.

Birds of Tomales Bay – White Pelican Style

Click on the words above “Birds of Tomales Bay – White Pelican Style” to see this entire post

Brown Pelicans generally dive from above to find their meal.

The larger White Pelicans generally work as a team, herding their supper.

I could watch either species all day.

Enjoy.

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

.

rjames-560a3557-16x9

.

rjames-560a3543-16x9

.

rjames-560a3552-16x9

.

Respect Tomales Bay – Stewardiness defined

Click on the words above “Respect Tomales Bay – Stewardiness defined” to see this entire post.

Last week The Tomales Bay Watershed Council hosted another fine “State of the Bay Conference at The Inverness Yacht Club.

I was kindly given a few minutes to present some of my findings from the past 3 years of paddling and cleaning Tomales Bay.

See the slides from my presentation, annotated after the fact at the below link:

Download (PDF, 14.13MB)

The main points of my presentation may be distilled to the following:

the coastodian board of directors are very cool

Steven Colbert knows what truthiness is all about

Download (PDF, 63KB)

Aldo Leopold knew what it means to be an environmental steward

the coastodian has witnessed firsthand in Tomales Bay the epitome of stewardiness

Tomales Bay oyster growers, some of them anyhow, over the past 3 years have moved the needle on the stewardometer.

stewardinessgauge-3

The California Fish & Game Commission continues to fail miserably in meeting their responsibility to protect and safeguard the public water bottoms they lease to private entities for private profit. One only need travel the length of Tomales Bay by small boat, from north to south to witness a sad century of dereliction of duty in the form of abandoned oyster farming infrastructure. Infrastructure that continues to pose a serious threat to the health of this jewel we call Tomales Bay.

Invasive plants such as jubata, pampas and ice plant pose a troubling threat to the biodiversity of West Marin. Without a strong, collaborative effort to safely eradicate these unwanted, unwelcome, invasive pests, West Marin will soon look more like Bodega Bay, Stinson Beach, Argentina, South Africa. We love West Marin because of the beautiful and diverse ecosystem. These  invasive plants threaten this beauty and we must act NOW!

Not long ago, one learned of a special beach, fantastic fishing lake/river or magical mushrooming spot from an elder who trusted us with this special knowledge only after we earned their trust.

With the advent of social media and frankly too damn many people, beautiful places like Tomales Bay are being overrun by people who see no difference between the shore of Tomales Bay and the trash-filled Oakland Estuary. These careless visitors venture west, have their fun, then leave a mess in the very place whose beauty brought them on a long journey to visit.

Today myself and a friend participated in an annual litter pickup known as “Litter bugs me”, started by Rigdon Currie 18 years ago. This year the cleanup extended beyond the side of the road into Tomales Bay. Two of us paddled from Chicken Ranch Beach to White House Pool, collecting all manner of trash, including 5 tires, several beach balls, a 5-gallon bucket of broken glass.

.

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

Century old bat-ray fence abandoned long ago, now causing sedimentation in the southern bay as well as providing hard substrate for the invasive oyster drill to colonize upon as well as lay many, many thousands of eggs. These oyster drills prey upon the threatened native Olympia Oyster

Century old bat-ray fence abandoned long ago, now causing sedimentation in the southern bay as well as providing hard substrate for the invasive oyster drill to colonize upon as well as lay many, many thousands of eggs. These oyster drills prey upon the threatened native Olympia Oyster

.

Chris plucks one of five tires collected from the cherished waters of Tomales Bay

Chris plucks one of five tires collected from the cherished waters of Tomales Bay

.

Salvage kayak "Deep Respect" drifts on a flood tide in southern Tomales Bay

Salvage kayak “Deep Respect” drifts on a flood tide in southern Tomales Bay

.

rjames-560a3362

.

rjames-560a3351

.

rjames-img_0072

Respect Tomales Bay – TBWC State of the Bay Conference 22-24 Sept.

Click on the words above “Respect Tomales Bay – TBWC State of the Bay Conference 22-24 Sept.” to see this entire post.

The following is an announcement for the Tomales Bay Watershed Council State of the Bay Conference.

The Tomales Bay Watershed Council Foundation is proud to present the seventh State of Tomales Bay Conference on Friday, September 23rd, 2016 at the Inverness Yacht Club.

Join us for this wonderful event gathering local scientists, policy makers, and stewards of this watershed to learn about the state of Tomales Bay and its watershed. This year’s conference is focused on the themes of Science, Policy and Practice in the watershed.

I’ll do a short presentation on my efforts to protect and cleanup the bay over the past few years. Please come if you can, the talks will be at the Inverness Yacht Club.

Registration Required.

Come learn what is happening to protect the bay we all love.

Download (PDF, 930KB)

Tomales Bay Triptych – Human Style

This pile of BBQ briquettes, napkins, toilet paper, beer bottles, gloves and other trash was pulled out of Tomales Bay at Grassy Point on the eastern shore on 13 August, 2016

This pile of BBQ briquettes, napkins, toilet paper, beer bottles, gloves and other trash was pulled out of Tomales Bay at Grassy Point on the eastern shore on 13 August, 2016


What are charcoal briquettes made of?

Kingsford Charcoal, for example, by far the most popular brand in the US, is made up of bits of charcoal, coal, starch (as a binder), sawdust, and sodium nitrate (to make it burn better). For the same reason that SPAM is cheaper than a whole ham, briquettes are cheaper to make than all-wood charcoal

.

This mess was left near the camping area known as Jack's Beach on the western shore of Tomales Bay. I picked up all the paper and liners. The poo is left for yoo.

This mess was left near the camping area known as Jack’s Beach on the western shore of Tomales Bay. I picked up all the paper and liners. The poo is left for yoo.

.

This 5-galloon bucket with seat and sack full of poo inside was found on the northeast shore of Tomales Bay, not far from oyster beds on August, 2016

This 5-galloon bucket with seat and sack full of poo inside was found on the northeast shore of Tomales Bay, not far from oyster beds on August, 2016

.