Sportfishing fleet: ‘Save Our Boats!’ CARB to Rule Soon

The Toronado at San Clemente Island. WON PHOTO BY MIKE STEVENS

This last year, Western Outdoor News has chronicled the blight of California’s commercial passenger sportfishing fleet. Even though there are less than 200 USCG Inspected passenger fishing vessels statewide, the Newsom Administration has unfairly labeled them a risk to public health.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB), a board largely appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom, has developed draconian engine emission regulations that require new engines that are too big and too heavy for existing engine rooms. Rather than allowing the boats to remain in service until the end of their lifespan, CARB told the Los Angeles Times (11.19.21), “We assume that a majority if not all sportfishing boats have to be replaced to comply.”

Consequently, passenger boat owners have reached the conclusion that they will go out of business soon if these proposals are adopted. They can’t afford to buy new vessels, especially since new ones can cost more than $5 million, and when their boats are deemed non-compliant and worthless in California, many stand to lose a lifetime of savings. Many have plans to give their business to their children and for others, it is their retirement nest egg.

On March 24 or 25, the CARB board is likely to consider staff’s proposed regulations. The board could throw boat owners a life-preserver, protecting their livelihoods and your access to the sea. However, this is unlikely unless anglers step up. Case and point: several years ago, CARB imposed engine regulations on semi-trucks. ABC-7 now reports that over 40,000 semi-trucks can’t comply and will be pulled from California highways next year. This threatens the livelihoods of independent truckers and the consumers who depend on a fully functioning supply chain for affordable goods and services.


Now, word comes that CARB is gunning for recreational fishing boats. At the behest of CARB, Cal State University Fullerton is surveying recreational boat owners to, “estimate emissions from recreational watercraft.” This is the first step in the rule making process and be forewarned, CARB has a record of overstating potential health risks by using flawed methodology and data.

In the case of commercial passenger sportfishing and whale watching boats, CARB overstated the amount of time they spend in regulated waters, gave no credit for all the efforts already to upgrade machinery to the cleanest available, and gave no path to compliance. They are under the impression that even as anglers sink their lines, boats are powered up at full throttle, rather than drifting or being anchored. They know this now, but don’t care enough to reverse course or attempt to correct their data.

We are calling on all anglers to save California’s commercial sportfishing fleet. Join the petition at for hearing updates and learn how you can save their boats. Remember, even before commercial sportfishing boats are pulled from the sea, CARB’s full attention will turn to California’s 645,000 recreational boat owners. Unless you will be satisfied fishing only from the shoreline, it’s time to rise up in defense of California sportfishing.











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