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Shellfish grower signs environmental stewardship deal


June 14, 2021
By Liza Mayer
Hog Island staff with harvest on boat. The oyster grower has signed a deal that will preserve and steward its farmland in perpetuity Photo Credit Brenna Schlagenhauf

California-based Hog Island Oyster Co has signed deal with the Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT) that will preserve the natural character of its 250-acre farmland in Marin County, where the oyster grower processes and packs its harvests.

Such deals, called conservation easements, are a way for the private sector to address the problem of disappearing natural habitats due to, for instance, industrial development. 

MALT’s mission as a land trust is to protect Marin County’s unique landscape and the food it generates through agricultural conservation easements. The deal with Hog Island marks its first deal with an aquaculture landowner.

The deal permanently protects the farmland, called Leali Ranch, from industrial development but “allows for mariculture support infrastructure such as oyster holding tanks and solar-powered water-cooling systems; and provides for a residence in the 10 acres closest to Hog Island’s bayside facility.” 

“Hog Island’s Leali Ranch has tremendous agricultural, environmental and historical significance, and we share the owners’ desire to preserve and steward this beautiful land in perpetuity,” said Thane Kreiner, CEO of MALT. “Through this agricultural conservation easement, MALT permanently protects Leali Ranch and enables Hog Island Oyster Co to further invest in innovative circular production practices.” 

There are associated financial benefits for landowners in granting an easement. In Hog Island’s case, it received $1.1-million from MALT, which it said will help it weather the “devastating drop” in business due to the COVID-19 restaurant shutdowns.


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