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Bryce Miller: Looming regulations threaten San Diego sportfishing industry

Bryce Miller, The San Diego Union-Tribune on

Published in Outdoors

In 2019, the California Air Resources Board commissioned a report from Cal Maritime with a title that would cause the eyes of even the most nerdy bureaucrat to glaze.

The name of the 135-page thicket of tables and diagrams?

“Evaluation of the Feasibility and Costs of Installing Tier 4 Engines and Retrofit Exhaust Aftertreatment on In-Use Commercial Harbor Craft.”

Sounds downright Shakespearean, right? A real page-turner.

Stakeholders in San Diego’s chase for tuna and everything else hauled onto the decks of the passenger vessels driving untold millions that ripple through hotels, restaurants, tackle shops, repair shops, fuel docks and more, need to pay attention.

Someone should pull everyone off the water, chain them to chairs in front of laptops and force the group to read every word. Their boats and careers literally depend on it.

 

The reason: If the proposed regulations born out of that report go into effect in 2023, scores of owners and operators could be out of business by 2030. In San Diego at H&M Landing, the largest of its kind in California, owner Frank Ursitti issued a dire warning.

“These boats weren’t designed for this type of equipment,” said Ursitti, a 40-year-plus veteran of the industry. “Some of it isn’t even available. In our basin in America’s Cup Harbor, we have a fleet of about 70 boats. We’d likely lose, I could conservatively say, 75 to 80 percent of them.

“Now’s the time to say, ‘Let’s look down the road (and address emissions improvement).’ But we can’t destroy our fleet, tie it to the dock and say you’re out of business. We can’t just crush an industry.”

The bottom line, without getting into the very substantial and confusing weeds: Tier 4 engines and a diesel filtration system likely to be required the next decade could cost owners, at minimum, hundreds of thousands of dollars.

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