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Oyster farms struggle to stay afloat

US - Not a drop of oil from the Nov. 7 spill reached the waters of Tomales Bay. Yet oyster growers in this corner of West Marin are getting the cold shoulder from customers convinced their favorite shellfish might be contaminated.

Jovannie Jimenez Pablo steps to the dock while tying up a barge filled with strings of oyster...

"People are saying 'The spill happened in the Bay Area, you're in the Bay Area, so you must have been affected,'" said Hog Island Oyster Co. co-founder Terry Sawyer, who has received about five to 15 calls per day from concerned customers since the spill. "Even though there's a land mass between Tomales Bay and Drakes Bay, people can't quite seem to separate the two bodies of water.

For the record, Hog Island — and the four other oyster farms in Tomales Bay — are open for business. The only oyster farm in Marin to close, Drakes Bay Oyster Co., is in Drakes Estero, on the other side of the Point Reyes peninsula.

"It's understandable that oil could have ended upat Point Reyes, because there's an eddy that occurs out of the Golden Gate to Stinson and Bolinas," said Scott Yancey, general manager of the Tomales Bay Oyster Co. "But for oil to get around the point, it would take a big swell and a big wind, and even then it would take another 28 days for water to get from the ocean to where we are at the southern end of the bay. Yet everybody still thinks we're closed.