EDITORIAL: Anglers were heard, passenger sportfishing boats were saved

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WON PHOTO BY MIKE STEVENS
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California’s passenger sportfishing boat fleet owes a special thanks to the angling community, their valued customers. 

BY KEN FRANKE AND RICK POWERS

As many anglers are aware, the California Air Resources Board (CARB), a board largely appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom, last year proposed engine emission regulations that would have removed nearly every vessel from the water starting as soon as next year. The few boat owners that could comply would have needed to triple their ticket prices in order to buy new boats. By some accounts, one-day fishing trips would have increased from $180 to $542 (a 201% increase) and multi-day fishing trips would increase from $200 to $394 (a 97% increase). At such high prices, no boat owner could maintain current passenger loads and would eventually go out of business as anglers stop fishing. This would have marked the beginning of the end for passenger sportfishing boats.

The good news is this LOSE-LOSE scenario was averted, thanks to anglers. Over 23,000 anglers signed a petition to “SAVE OUR BOATS” and the CARB board heard them.

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The proposed rules were amended because of the recognition that the fleet has already made significant progress towards reducing engine emissions. An alternative compliance schedule was proposed by CARB that is more feasible and achievable, requiring boats to repower to lower emission engines as the technology becomes available and it is economically feasible, and safe. This process begins next year, concluding by 2035, and as the state marches down that path of achieving its zero-emission goals by 2045.

While good news, the reality is the regulations are still very aggressive and costly, and they require a commitment on behalf of CARB and the State Legislature to make sure state grants that help fund the purchase of lower emission engines are fully funded. If they are not, boat owners will be challenged to make sure offshore fishing remains affordable.

The biggest takeaway from this experience was to what extent California’s angling community understood the importance of political engagement and their recognition that they have so many allies along the coast who depend on them for visitor spending and jobs. This led over 60 local, state and national organizations representing small business, tourism, retail, local government and marinas and harbors to come to our defense.

CARB and the State Legislature were overwhelmed by emails, letters and phone calls. Quite frankly, they underestimated the angling community’s passion for fishing and the strength of their message. This is not the first time the angling community defended their access to the sea, nor will it be the last.

Once again, we would like to extend a special thanks to Western Outdoor News and its readers. Your support was greatly appreciated. Now, LETS GO FISHING!

Ken Franke, Sportfishing Association of California, President

Rick Powers, Golden Gate Fishermen’s Association, President

THE GAIL FORCE at Catalina Island. WON PHOTO BY MIKE STEVENS
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