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Judge approves Drakes Bay Oyster Co. settlement (w/video)

U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzales Rodgers approved a settlement agreement Wednesday between Drakes Bay Oyster Co. and the National Parks Service, paving the way for the Point Reyes shellfish farm to close by Dec. 31 and ending a contentious two-year legal battle.

The settlement, announced Monday, allows the oyster company to harvest shellfish for wholesale until the end of the year, at which time the Parks Service will be responsible for removing on- and off-shore infrastructure associated with the farm and for restoring Drakes Estero, a protected waterway inside Point Reyes National Seashore.

The family-owned Drakes Bay Oyster Co. fought a federal shutdown order in a case that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which in June declined to hear an appeal. A month later, the company closed its retail operation on the shore of Drakes Estero. The company’s owners, the Lunny family, purchased a lease to take over the century-old oyster operation in 2004 knowing that it was set to expire in 2012, a provision outlined in the 1976 law that established wilderness areas in Point Reyes.

The Lunny family said they will remain in the oyster business, opening a seafood restaurant in Inverness and distributing oysters raised elsewhere.

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