The Interview With Raj Mathai

The Interview With Raj Mathai

In-depth interviews that go beyond one or two soundbites

The Interview: Drakes Bay Oyster Farmer Kevin Lunny

Oyster farmer loses a federal appeal to keep his oyster farm

By Raj Mathai and Alex Bozovic
|  Wednesday, Sep 4, 2013  |  Updated 5:23 AM PDT
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9th Circuit Appeals Court upholds a lower court ruling, which allows Drakes Bay Oyster Company's oyster farming permit to expire. In a one-on-one interview with Raj Mathai, farmer Kevin Lunny explains why he took on the federal government.

9th Circuit Appeals Court upholds a lower court ruling, which allows Drakes Bay Oyster Company's oyster farming permit to expire. In a one-on-one interview with Raj Mathai, farmer Kevin Lunny explains why he took on the federal government.

The days of family run run oyster farm may be numbered. Today, the 9th Circuit Court of appeals upheld a lower court ruling, to allow the permit for commercial oyster farming at the Drakes Bay Oyster Company to expire. This means the farm's owner, Kevin Lunny, will very likely have to shut down his company, paving the way for the farm to become a marine wilderness.

"We care deeply about the environment, yet we are attacked" Kevin Lunny said in an interview last month. "We have been called just the reverse. We have been made out to be environmental criminals and nothing could be further from the truth."

Former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar ordered the Lunny family to cease operations last November. In a 7-page memorandum, he wrote that his decision was based on matters of "law and policy." Lunny, not surprisingly, disagreed with the memo. "If you continue to read the decision, he also said that the science informed his decision. There is something we know very clearly about the science and that is that the Park Service science is wrong," Lunny said.

When Lunny purchased the farm at the end of 2004, he knew this was a possibility, but never actually thought the federal government let the lease expire. "When we took over in 2004, well in the top of 2005, our hopes were that the renewal clause would be respected and would be offered a lease," Lunny said. "The one thing my dad said early on in this debate is never fight the federal government. I should've listened to him."

When contacted today about the Court's decision, Lunny said he was disappointed. Right now, his lawyers are reviewing the ruling and won't make any decision about their next step until Friday.

To watch the entire video, click on the video player on the top of the screen.

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