Oceanside Harbor.
Many sportfishing boats operate out of the harbor in Oceanside. Photo courtesy of the City of Oceanside.

The California sports fishing industry said Monday that “technically infeasible” state pollution rules effective in 2023 could force many boat owners out of business.

“The sportfishing industry is committed to reducing engine emissions, however the Newsom administration has proposed harbor craft regulations that disproportionally impact family operations by mandating engine technology that has not been developed yet, or in other cases proven safe at sea,” said Ken Franke, president of the Sportfishing Association of California.

He said the California Air Resources Board will require boat engines to be equipped with expensive diesel particulate filters, which are used on farm equipment and trucks. The filters can create severe back pressure on engines, which can then can take hours to restart.

“Boat captains are concerned that under the best-case scenario passengers could be adrift at sea for hours as boat crews try to clear blocked exhaust systems,” said Franke. “No captain wants a boat full of passengers drifting aimlessly at sea.”

The sportfishing association said the potential cost of new engines and boats is so significant that boat owners remaining in business will need to double the price of tickets, making offshore fishing and whale watching trips cost prohibitive.

“These regulations treat sportfishing boats unfairly and will sink businesses and coastal economies dependent on outdoor tourism for jobs and tax revenue,” said Jerry Sanders, president of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce. “There has to be a more flexible and economically feasible solution that protects air quality without putting Californians out of business.” 

California is one of America’s top fishing destinations with over a half a million people a year going out on sportfishing boats, supporting coastal communities, marinas, and small businesses.

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.