The Sportfishing Association of California and the Golden Gate Fishermen’s Association announced that 27 chambers of commerce and tourism authorities have joined a coalition in defense of commercial passenger boat owners, a report said.
The decision came with less than four weeks before the California Air Resources Board (CARB) will decide what happens to 174 passenger commercial vessel owners.
The business coalition represents almost every coastal town from San Diego to the Oregon border.
The group comprises the California Chamber of Commerce, the California Travel Association, the National Federation of Independent Business, the RV Park and Campgrounds Alliance, and the California Parks Hospitality Association.
Their letter to the Chair of the California Air Resources Board wrote:
“As you well know, sportfishing and whale watching boats provide coastal communities a valued source of outdoor recreation and tourism dollars. Their boat owners are in the business of introducing millions of Americans a year to the splendor of the open sea and its wildlife. However, before these boat owners can recover from financial losses associated with the pandemic, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has proposed costly engine emission regulations that require technology that has not been developed or tested safe on passenger harbor crafts.”
According to the letter, CARB’s decision will affect California’s post-pandemic local economy “by denying millions of Californians access to offshore fishing and marine life by putting sportfishing companies out of business or making excursions unaffordable for disadvantaged communities and the vast majority of Californians.”
The Save Our Boats coalition has grown to more than 40 trade and business organizations.
Whale watching, sports fishing, eco-tourism, and dive boats are available in almost every marina and harbor in California.
California has lost half of its 1.2 million jobs in the tourism and hospitality industries in the course of the pandemic. Gov. Gavin Newsom has made restoring these jobs a vital part of his economic strategy. While the coalition members favor this idea, they believe that the plan’s economic benefits will not be achievable without protecting the passenger vessels that power the coastal economy.