California already has the toughest standards in the nation for regulating pollution produced by cars. They are about to get even tougher as the California Air Resources Board (CARB) is about to roll out its Advanced Clean Car II standard. That will require all cars in the state to be zero-emission models in less than 15 years.


But CARB is now turning attention to California’s significantly large boat population. Ironically, while regulations for cars are the toughest in America, this state ranks rock-bottom for the way they regulate boat motors.


A new study just completed at the behest of CARM looked at 13 types of marine vessels. On just about all of them, the ships and boats are fitted with old model internal combustion engines the spew large amounts of polluting fumes.


A CARB spokesman said the exemption that boat owners, including owners of fishing vessels, simply must end. That means swapping out the old engines with new low-pollution or pollution-free electric models.


Unfortunately, for complicated reasons, engine swapping is not a solution for sports fishing crafts. That’s according to David Quiros. He is the manager of the freight technology section of CARB.


Quiros said that the problem for sports fishing boats is that no American company makes a regulation-compliant engine for them. Some marine engines that will work on California boats are manufactured in Europe. However, these models are too large to fit most American brand boats.


Even so, CARB officials say they have no choice. California fishing boats must comply with pollutions standards – or be taken off the water. An extremely unpopular suggestion being offered is for boat owners to sell their crafts at auction and buy new boats with the proper engines.


But Captain Joe Cacciola said that’s not possible, and that would mean an end to his business. Captain Cacciola has operated Sea Star Sportsfishing in Oceanside for the past 40 years. He said selling once his boats and buying a replacement would cost him from $1.2 to $1.5 million. With more than a dozen boats, Cacciola said: “That’s just not going to happen.”

Yet – the CARB plan will move forward. If its new air standard for boast is adopted this year, boat owners will have six years to comply. Policy analysts said the new rules would eliminate about 2,000 fishing jobs almost right away, among other effects.