With less than four weeks before the California Air Resources Board (CARB) determines the fate of 174 commercial passenger vessel owners, the Sportfishing Association of California and the Golden Gate Fishermen’s Association have announced that 27 chambers of commerce and tourism authorities, Representing nearly every coastal community, from San Diego to the Oregon border, has joined a coalition in defense of commercial passenger vessel owners. The business coalition includes the California Chamber of Commerce, the California Travel Association, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, the RV Park and Campgrounds Alliance, and the California Parks Hospitality Association.
In its letter to the chairman of the California Air Resources Board, the coalition wrote:
“As you are well aware, sport fishing and whale watching boats provide coastal communities with a valuable source of dollars for outdoor recreation and tourism. Their boat owners’ mission is to teach millions of Americans every year the splendor of the high seas and its wildlife. However, before these boat owners could recover from the financial losses associated with the pandemic, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) proposed costly engine emissions regulations that require technology that has not been developed or safely tested on ships in passenger ports. “
The letter continues: “Rebuilding the state’s post-pandemic economy depends on continuing this growth, not undermining it by denying millions of Californians access to deep-sea fishing and marine life by. bankrupting sport fishing companies or making excursions unaffordable for underprivileged communities and the vast majority of Californians.
Sport fishing, whale watching, eco-tourism, and dive boats can be found in nearly every port and marinas in California. With the addition of sport fishing, boating and marina / port organizations, outdoor retailers and fishing tackle manufacturers, the Save Our Boats coalition now has more than 40 trade and commerce organizations.
During the pandemic, California lost half of its 1.2 million tourism and hospitality jobs, and Gov. Gavin Newsom has made restoring those lost jobs a centerpiece of his economic plan. While coalition members applaud this goal, they do not believe the economic plan is achievable without protecting the passenger ships that power coastal economies.
While commercial passenger vessels make up less than 10% of all harbor craft, these family businesses attract hundreds of thousands of visitors to coastal communities each year, generating billions of dollars in tourism spending. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, California’s more than 2 million anglers contributed $ 5.6 billion a year to economic activity and supported nearly 40,000 jobs for our state.
On September 21, 2021, CARB published its Proposed Amendments to the Harbor Pleasure Craft Regulations. The public comment period is September 24 to November 15, and the CARB board, appointed largely by Governor Gavin Newsom, is expected to rule on November 19, 2021. To date, more than 20,000 fishermen have signed on. a petition and over 1,600 public comments were submitted. at CARB.
CARB has proposed regulations that require engines to be modified with technology that has not yet been developed for commercial passenger fishing vessels or that have been confirmed to be safe at sea. In most cases, the modifications will be too massive to fit into existing engine rooms. This led the Maritime Academy at California State University to conclude that the proposed standards for existing engines do not exist and, in the alternative, “… the processing equipment (modifications) alone has a significant impact on the stability of the vessel ”.
Since compliance will be impossible for some, if not most, passenger vessels, CARB has concluded that vessels constructed of wood and fiberglass will likely be out of service. More than 80% of commercial passenger boats are built of wood and fiberglass, forcing boat owners to purchase new metal boats as early as 2023 or to close when extensions expire.
The Sportfishing Association of California (SAC) is a trade organization representing owners of sport fishing and whale watching boats in Southern California. The Golden State Fishermen’s Association represents commercial passenger fishing vessels and recreational anglers in Northern California.
Interviews can be arranged with boat owners at most ports and marinas. To view the coalition, www.savefishing.com/coalition.
Contact: Marko Mlikotin, River City Communications[email protected] or 916.817.4444