CA - Passenger Sportfishing and Whale Watching Boats Face Looming Storm

Analysis Finds CARB "Low-Balled" Economic Feasibility of Proposed Engine Emission Regulations

SAN DIEGO, Nov. 15, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- As the California Air Resources Board (CARB) is set to consider unprecedented harbor craft engine emission regulations that stand to remove 174 sportfishing and whale watching boats from the sea, the Sportfishing Association of California (SAC) has released economic analysis that undermines CARB's contention that it is economically feasible for boat owners to replace their vessels. The analysis also reveals unintended consequences for the state's economy, fishery and conservation programs and significant declines in fishing participation rates. Hardest hit would be low-income communities.

"CARB failed to obtain actual data to properly assess the crushing impact of their proposed regulations," said Frank Ursitti, owner of H&M Landing of San Diego. "Nowhere in the country has a state proposed regulations that will have the practical effect of destroying offshore fishing and whale watching businesses, and threatening the coastal communities that depend on them for tourism and visitor spending. This uniquely California experience will come to an end if CARB's plan is not rejected."

On Friday, November 19th, the CARB board will consider harbor craft engine regulations that would result in commercial passenger vessels being removed from service due to proposed engines and technology that are structural infeasible for existing engine rooms. These commercial passenger boats are commonly associated with sportfishing, whale watching, eco-tourism and scuba diving. According to CARB, vessels constructed of wood and fiberglass (more than 80%) will likely need to be replaced. Metal boats that can comply will have to reduce passenger loads by up to 40% to address stability and safety issues.

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Southwick and Associates Key Findings: (link to full report)

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"It became evident early on that CARB does not understand marine operations and fishing practices, and they were low-balling regulatory costs and inflating benefits. The true cost for new vessels is staggering and would require us to triple ticket prices for day trips. No customer is going to pay that to fish or observe marine life and it would end our non-profit programs for at-risk youth and veterans," said Ursitti.

The analysis released by SAC today reveals that CARB's economic (SRIA) assessment grossly understates their conclusion that the proposed regulations could lead to (just) "some business elimination." The new analysis reveals that the proposed regulations pose considerable economic barriers for boat owners who can't afford new vessels costing millions more than projected by CARB and to acquire financing, and for those who could, maintaining current passenger loads while increasing prices 97% or 201% is impossible.

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