'I'm truly upset': CA sport fishermen say proposed emissions standards will put them out of business

The California Air Resources Board is proposing regulations to reduce emissions from all commercial harbor crafts in the state.
SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Some career fishermen say proposed emissions standards for commercial boats could put sport fishers around California out of business.

The Recino family is a multi-generational family of sport fishermen.

"My family has been doing business at Fisherman's Wharf since 1908," said Frank Recino.

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Frank and his son Michael captain the fishing vessel Lovely Martha, she's 62-years-old.

Every day the Recino family guides groups to catch fish, but now they're worried they could be forced out of business.

"I'm just upset, I'm truly upset," said Frank.

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The California Air Resources Board, or CARB, is proposing regulations to reduce emissions from all commercial harbor crafts in the state.

"California has some of the worst air quality in the nation and we need to reduce emissions from all sources," said David Quiros, CARB's Manager overseeing the proposal.

Sport fishermen like the Recino family support reducing emissions, but say the engines they would need to purchase to adhere to the proposed standards don't exist for older vessels like theirs.

"There's no way I could get this boat to be modern with what they've proposed," said Recino.

Owners of these older boats would either have to hang up their fishing rods or buy a brand new boat.

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Ken Franke is President of the Sport Fishing Association of California.

"We want to make sure that the boats are as safe as possible and again we want to work with CARB to do that and at the same time reduce admissions but do so, without having to take boats out of service and destroy the livelihoods of a lot of these people," said Franke.

"All I can do is get mad because otherwise I'd have to cry," said Recino.

To pay for replacement vessels, CARB has suggested fishermen pass the cost onto customers.

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Matt Pieciak was surrounded by friends and family, drinking some beers, playing some cornhole and taking a chance at catching some fish.

"We're looking at a 14% increase upon a $150/day base fare per person, per day to go sport fishing, so the question for our board to answer this November is whether or not that's an absorbable cost to the passenger of a sport fishing vessel," said Quiros.

"It's very difficult to pass on those kinds of costs to the customer and still stay in business," said Franke.

CARB says requiring only the newest vessels to have cleaner engines isn't an option.

"The emissions from one sport fishing vessel is equivalent to 162 school buses operating for the same amount of time," said Bonnie Soriano of the California Air Resources Board.

"Those emissions contribute to smog, to ozone levels, to fine particle levels, and particle levels are associated with premature mortality," said Quiros.

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The plan is to target the dirtiest engines first, according to CARB.

Fishermen like the Recino family who recently upgraded their vessel's engines will have more time. There's also six years of compliance extensions vessel operators could apply for if they did have to replace their vessel.

Still, Recino is not convinced.

"They're going to kill sport fishing it's a travesty man it's sad," said Recino.

There will be a public comment period next month and a final decision in early 2022.

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