Supporter Profile: Jeff Creque

Dr. Jeffrey A. Creque is a local scientist and community leader who works as an agricultural consultant to the finest farms in West Marin county. He is lead author of the Collaborative Management Alternative, a substantive proposal presented to the Park Service as a more sensible adjunct to its now-discredited environmental impact statement. A longtime supporter of sustainable agriculture and aquaculture and a champion of this community’s agrarian way of life, he is a founding member of the Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture (ALSA).

Jeff has published many excellent editorials in the local papers. His May 13, 2013 op-ed “Red herrings in Drakes Estero oyster debate” refutes Dr. Marty Griffin’s false assertions about the oyster farm. For example:

“Dr. Griffin reviews the many charges brought against the Drakes Bay Oyster Farm by the California Coastal Commission in its ongoing collaboration with the National Park Service against aquaculture on over 55 percent of the state of California’s water bottom shellfish leases, but he fails to explain the commission’s ham-handed attempts to regulate an activity over which it has no statutory authority.

If the oyster company is, technically, out of compliance with commission regulations, it is due entirely to the success of the bureaucratic pincer move deployed jointly by the commission and Park Service.

There have been no “expanded operations” by the oyster farm. Johnson’s Oyster Company harvested some 800,000 pounds annually prior to the company’s collapse in 2004. Drake Bay Oyster Co. has gradually rebuilt the farm’s annual harvest to about 400,000 pounds, half that of Johnson’s.”

In the same editorial, Dr. Creque explains the truth about the DBOC lawsuit against the California Coastal Commission:

“I want to assure Dr. Griffin that there is nothing frivolous about our lawsuit, undertaken only after much deliberation and careful legal analysis by our pro bono legal team.

The anguish expressed during our pre-filing deliberations by Phyllis Faber, whose own lifetime of laudable service to the cause of conservation in Marin rivals even Dr. Griffin’s, including her tireless efforts to bring about the state Coastal Act and her service on the original coastal commission, was, for me, particularly sobering.

As made clear in our legal brief, we believe the commission has greatly exceeded its authority in this matter, working against its own statutory requirement to support coastal dependent activities, particularly aquaculture, and both replicating and exceeding authorities of the state Fish and Game Commission, in direct violation of the Coastal Act.”

Read the whole thing here.

In August 2013, Jeff treated readers of the Marin Independent Journal to an understanding of ecosystem dynamics:

“Mueller evokes closed system dynamics to support his argument that carbon and nutrients are limited, and limiting, within the estero. But modern ecosystem theory recognizes entirely different dynamics in open systems, of which Drakes Estero is an archetypical example.

Indeed, open to inputs from both sky and sea, the estero, rather than being limited by a fixed quantity of energy and nutrients, has essentially an unlimited capacity for self-organized complexity, including enormous biomass production and biodiversity potential.

That same misunderstanding of ecosystem dynamics underlies the 19th-century “human-free wilderness” convictions of those opposing Drakes Bay Oyster Co.’s longstanding lease on the premise of “protecting pristine wilderness.”

Under that archaic paradigm, any human involvement with the imagined “wild” is necessarily negative.

It is impossible, within that outmoded framework, to conceive of ecosystem complexity and productivity increasing under enlightened management.

Yet efforts now underway to restore oysters to San Francisco Bay, and estuaries around the world, offer pertinent examples of how shellfish, as ecosystem engineers, can improve water quality, add to structural diversity in the estuarine system, and play a critical role in enhancing ecosystem biodiversity, productivity, and resilience.”

Read the entire editorial here.

Jeff was also eloquent in raising his voice against the refusal of Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, to support a bipartisan congressional investigation into the “questionable science” that misinformed Interior Secretary Salazar’s decision not to renew the farm’s permit.

In his June 25, 2013 letter to the editor of the Marin IJ, Jeff wrote:

“While we may not be able to agree on what is knowledge versus what is orthodoxy, we must agree on the criteria by which that distinction is made if our democracy is to survive. There may be no perfect Truth, but there are claims that can be verified by empirical facts and those that cannot. Our democracy depends upon the capacity to recognize the difference.

Historical facts are subject to corroboration by an examination of the documentary record. Scientific fact is subject to validation through data and testable hypotheses.

Democracy is compromised when we substitute opinion and prejudice, however passionately held, for science and reason.

In the words of Chris Hedges, “A populace deprived of the ability to separate lies from truth, that has become hostage to the fictional semblance of reality put forth by pseudoevents, is no longer capable of sustaining a free society.” Facts must prevail if freedom is to survive.

In the debate over whether 80 years of California Fish and Game Commission aquaculture leases in Drakes Estero should continue to provide 55 percent of California’s sustainable shellfish production capacity, perhaps, for the sake of our civil democracy, we can agree that any decision should be based upon verifiable facts, and the actual — rather than illusory — consequences of this choice.

Surely, as our representative, a Democrat, and an environmentalist, Rep. Jared Huffman, will support an open congressional airing of the scientific, legal and policy questions surrounding this matter, so seriously impacting the present, and future, well-being of his district.”

For additional background on the investigation Rep. Huffman decided to stonewall, see this piece by Dr. Corey Goodman. See also this press release from the Natural Resources Committee, “Documents Requested on Interior Department’s Decision to Close Drakes Bay Oyster Company.”