The future of local passenger sport fishing and whale watching boats is uncertain


For as long as most people can remember, local sport fishing, whale watching and ecotourism boats have introduced Californians to the Channel Islands, bringing thousands of visitors a year to our coastline. .

However, that may soon change. The COVID-19 pandemic has decimated the region’s tourism and hospitality industry, reducing visitor spending and wiping out years of economic gain. Fortunately, family boat businesses like ours have been able to maintain operations. However, there is an imminent threat to our livelihoods that will achieve what COVID-19 failed to do – bankrupt us.

Even though boat owners have proactively reduced emissions by replacing their engines with the cleanest marine engines on the market today, the California Air Resources Board (CARB), a board appointed by Governor Newsom, has proposed engine emission regulations that require technology not developed for commercial passenger vessels, nor deemed safe at sea.

Additionally, CARB concluded that the modifications they require are not structurally safe for certain types of vessels, leading them to conclude that “replacement of vessels will be likely, particularly categories with wooden vessels. or fiberglass. This is an astonishing admission, as over 80% of all passenger sport fishing and whale watching boats are made from these materials.

Thus, CARB concluded that boat owners like us should be mandated to build new boats as early as 2023, which would at least double the cost of passenger tickets. Our existing boats will be considered illegal and will have no resale value. Even in the best of times, no small business can see its most valuable asset become worthless and then be told to go get an extra loan to rebuild its business.

Then there are the unresolved security issues. CARB regulations require engines to have equipment installed that has not been thoroughly tested at sea. It is common for this type of equipment on trucks and farm equipment to create significant heat and high back pressure on engines. Blocked exhaust systems may be manageable on land, but not at sea. Passengers could be adrift at sea for hours as boat crews attempt to recover the system. The worst-case scenario of a failed engine would endanger the lives of passengers and crew.

So here is. Sacramento bureaucrats have crafted regulations so impractical that boat owners will go bankrupt and those who don’t will have a tough job to keep their passengers and crew safe. Collateral damage will be the many Californians who will be denied access to deep sea fishing and whale watching – a valuable source of outdoor recreation, marine education and economic activity.

We need your help and the support of our state legislators and local officials. Nobody in Sacramento seems to be listening. Help us keep ocean access affordable and save the many families who operate local sport fishing and whale watching boats by joining our petition at

Jaime Diamond is the owner of Stardust Sportfishing in Santa Barbara. Joe Villareal is the owner of Mirage Sportfishing in Oxnard.


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