Tim Klassen has operated Real Steel Sport Fishing in Eureka Harbor for the past 15 years. But its passenger sea excursions could come to an end if proposed air quality regulations for passenger ships come into force.
CARB’s pleasure craft rule, originally adopted in 2007 and amended in 2010, is expected to be fully implemented by the end of 2022. The rule was originally adopted to reduce emissions of particulates and other matter exhaust from several types of ships using diesel engines under regulated conditions. Californian waters.
Commercial and commercial passenger vessels were previously listed in the same category by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The rule to be implemented would separate the categories of vessels, stricter regulations for commercial passenger fishing vessels would come into force.
Compliance with the regulations would require operators of commercial passenger vessels to equip their vessels with an appropriate “tier 4” engine or to purchase a new vessel, which could bankrupt the operators.
“If the regulations are passed as proposed right now, the majority of us would probably be bankrupt,” Klassen said.
Compliance is currently not possible for many; he said.
“A new engine for my boat that would be compliant costs around $ 60,000. … A boat like mine with a new engine costs around $ 400,000, ”said Klassen.
The Sportfishing Association of California is pushing against the implementation of the new emissions rule.
“Before owners of sport fishing and whale watching boats can recoup their financial losses from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Newsom administration has proposed draconian regulations that will take hundreds of family-operated boats out of service. “Ken Franke, president of the Sportfishing Association of California, said in a statement. “Since the regulations were drafted during the COVID-19 pandemic and without any in-person public workshops, boat owners are learning for the first time that their days at sea are numbered and their livelihoods may be lost. “
A study undertaken by the CSU Maritime Academy for CARB also indicates that there are no engines that would meet the proposed standards, and that modifications to engines installed for compliance would destabilize vessels.
“They want a level of emissions compliance on engines that aren’t even available yet. And the (engines) that would conform, would not fit in any of our boats. So basically we had to buy brand new boats and start from scratch and there just isn’t that kind of money in this business to do that, ”Klassen said.
Operators have until the regulations come into force in 2022 to comply, but can also request an extension of up to six years to be able to cover the cost of meeting regulatory standards.
Upgrading or replacing its only vessel would force Klassen and other operators to double its prices just to meet compliance costs in a timely manner, leaving its customers priced out.
Klassen, who takes an average of 500 fishermen out to sea a year, said the local owner-operated passenger fishing boat industry is a local economic driver.
“I think there are about a dozen (of boats) in Humboldt Bay, there are probably half a dozen and in Trinidad there are a few in Shelter Cove, there are in Crescent City. , so we bring a lot of tourist activities. People come here specifically to fish from Redding, Red Bluff or Chico and even from out of state. They get in, they spend money on motels and restaurants and so on, so I mean, there’s more economic benefit to the community than just what we take in, ”he explained. .
CARB is expected to adopt the measures in November.
Mario Cortez can be reached at 707-441-0520.