Judge denies Marin oyster company's bid to stay in business

A federal judge on Monday denied Drakes Bay Oyster Co.'s bid to remain in business, upholding Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's decision that shuttered the commercial shellfish operation on the Marin County coast.

Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ruled that she lacked jurisdiction to review the decision by Salazar, who declined to renew a 40-year lease that gave oyster farm operator Kevin Lunny the right to operate in Drake's Estero.

The National Park Service, based on Salazar's decision, ordered Lunny to shut down the business by Feb. 28. The farm harvests 8 million oysters a year, worth about $1.5 million, from a 2,500-acre estuary designated as wilderness in the Point Reyes National Seashore.

Lunny filed suit contending that Salazar's order violated federal rules and was based on faulty science.

The judge, who heard oral arguments in her Oakland courtroom on Jan. 25, said that even if she had jurisdiction, Lunny's arguments were unlikely to prevail.

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