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Compromise reached on air quality regulations for sport fishing boats

Sport fishing boat owners were worried about the air quality regulations proposed by California’s clean air agency, some said the rules would put them out of business. But KPBS reporter Tania Thorne tells us a compromise has been reached — and it's being called a win-win for all.

Sport fishing boat owners are breathing a sigh of relief after the California Air Resources Board (CARB) reconsidered regulations on commercial fishing boats.

CARB wanted boat owners to upgrade to newer, less polluting engines, but boat owners argued the new technology CARB was requiring wasn’t available or couldn’t be installed in many of the older sport fishing boats.

Ultimately, the regulations could have closed many small businesses or the cost of the upgrades would trickle down to the consumers.


For months, Ken Franke, the president of the Sportfishing Association of California, was asking CARB for a compromise.

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"Sure enough they came up with one. It's pretty consistent with what we had been proposing in the beginning," he said.

Franke said CARB leadership flew to San Diego and met with boat owners to discuss options.

"(CARB) got on a boat, saw how the boats operate. Because if you're fishing along the coast on a boat, the boat gets anchored. The engine gets turned off. The presence of the vessel doesn't necessarily mean the machinery is operating. And they started to get a good understanding of what we do and how we do it," he said.


Franke said there are approximately 193 commercial fishing boats statewide and most have already worked towards upgrading to cleaner engines.

"Since 1998 half the fleet have already upgraded to Tier Three, the best engines that are available, the cleanest ones in the world that we have available to us right now. And the rest of them are in plans going to that," Franke said. "So this is the best model that reduce all the emissions.”

During CARB’s board meeting last week, members voted unanimously on new regulations requiring vessel owners to upgrade to the next less polluting engines available on the market by 2024.

A review will be conducted in 2024 in hopes that zero emission technology for sport fishing vessels may develop.

While Franke said boat owners are happy with the agreement, he says the real winners here are the consumers.

"The winners in this frankly are the folks that don't have the money to own a boat. The kids groups that we've taken out on these boats at no cost to them. Their first opportunity to go in the ocean, experience it, learn about it. All of our ocean laboratories, our veterans groups, our state disabled groups... all these people that that we've reached out to that we've worked with all these years. All their programs get to stay intact, giving them accessibility to the ocean at a reasonable cost, that's the big thing, at a reasonable cost," he said.

The Coalition for Clean Air said CARB’s new regulations could save over 500 lives by reducing toxic emissions.