Tomales Bay Oyster Company Coastal Development Permit Amendment Approved by Coastal Commission

Charles Friend Oyster Company ( CFOC / Tomales Bay Oyster) submitted a Coastal Development Permit (CDP) amendment application to the California Coastal Commission (Commission) for an after-the-fact development.

This amendment application was limited in scope, as it focused on an after-the-fact permit for unauthorized cultivation in 2.8 acres that were approved by the California Fish and Game Commission for sublease to Starbird Mariculture. The issue at hand, up to 265-untethered plastic mesh oyster cultivation bags were placed directly within eelgrass habitat in the sublease area. As a result of this unpermitted development, Starbird Mariculture was notified by California Fish and Wildlife and Commission staff that the bags must be removed and appropriate permits and CDP amendments must be obtained prior to removal. However, the bags were removed without any permits and resulted in disturbance to benthic habitat, including eelgrass.

The resulting CDP amendment for CFOC / Tomales Bay Oyster updates CDP 1-93-73-A1 proposed several special conditions EAC supports, including:

  • Special Condition 5: Requirement to affix all mesh cultivation bags to anchored longlines.

  • Special Condition 6: Requirement of annual report of Special Condition 7 activities.

  • Special Condition 7, A-G: Marine Debris Reduction and Management conditions that includes storm damage and debris, gear marking, marine debris reduction training, clean up events, and more.

The CDP amendment was approved unanimously by the Commission on the consent calendar on August 8, 2019 as there were not any objections by the applicant or the public.

EAC is generally supportive of the CDP amendment and continues to raise concerns on the prevalence of after-the-fact permit amendments that may set a standard for operators to install and remove unpermitted cultivation without obtaining permits and many times in sensitive habitat areas like eelgrass. The updated Special Conditions will assist to prevent future impacts to sensitive habitats.

EAC will continue to monitor CDP applications working to ensure protection of sensitive habitats like eelgrass and supporting efforts to mark gear to reduce issues with lost aquaculture debris in Tomales Bay.

Read EAC's comments
Read the Coastal Commission Staff Report
Learn More about our Healthy Tomales Bay and Bolinas Lagoon Watersheds Program