Interior Secretary won't delay oyster farm report

September 19, 2011 8:20:42 PM PDT
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told ABC7 Monday he will not postpone the release of a report on a Point Reyes oyster farm, despite concerns from scientists about some of the research being used to try to close the oyster farm down.

Salazar talked about water battles around the west Monday, but one fight he didn't mention is the one at the Point Reyes National Seashore. The Drake's Bay Oyster Company has operated there since the 1930s.

The National Park Service has ordered it closed and it will be up to Salazar to make the final decision on whether the farm stays or goes.

"We will look at different alternatives, including an extension of the current oyster operation there," Salazar said.

Salazar's decision will be based in part on the results of a environmental impact statement expected to be released this month. But some scientists believe research has been skewed to make the oyster farm look bad.

"None of the conclusions in the paper are valid," biologist Corey Goodman said.

Goodman, who works for the National Academy of Sciences, is a critic of the Park Service's research. He claims the Park Service distorted science when it reviewed the oyster farm's impact on harbor seals.

However, Salazar says he is standing by the study.

"From our point of view the science is accurate, we've taken steps to make sure the science is accurate," Salazar said.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., is concerned about Goodman's analysis. She sent a letter to Salazar earlier this month asking that the environmental review be delayed until the Marine Mammal Commission does an independent review of the Park Service's research.

But Salazar says there will be no delay.

"Right now, we're still in process, we'll look at all the different alternatives and at the right time there will be a decision will be made," Salazar said.

The final decision on whether the oyster farm stays or goes won't come until next fall.

Written and produced by Ken Miguel


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