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CARB Cancels Long-Discussed Zero Emission Regulations

The proposed regulations CARB worked to enforce on commercial passenger vessels has been amended and it is in favor of the industry.

CALIFORNIA— On March 24, CARB held a virtual meeting to approve an alternative, amended plan, highlighting the idea that lower engine emissions can be achieved without significant economic harm to small business owners and the communities dependent on the industry.


The new plan proposes a more realistically achievable compliance schedule — requiring boats to re-power to lower emission engines as the technology becomes available and economically feasible and safe.


“CARB’s new rule recognizes that California’s fleet was already reducing emissions as better engine technologies became available,” said Ken Franke, president of the Sportfishing Association of California, in a March 24 press release from Don’t Sink Sportfishing. “However, the new compliances schedule is aggressive, and we will need to be diligent in ensuring continued compliance as new technology becomes available and it is economically feasible and safe. The great news for our coastal communities is that our boats will not be pulled from service starting next year. They will continue to provide millions of Californians affordable access to the sea while also working to reduce emissions.”


The California Air and Resources Board (CARB) has long discussed proposed regulations for zero-emission. Since the summer of 2021, over 23,000 Californians and 60 local, state, and national business organizations made the case to CARB proposing their harbor craft regulations were economically and structurally infeasible. Many unresolved safety concerns needed to be addressed to protect passengers and crew, including the installment of engines that had not yet been tested in a marine setting, in addition to the fact that the engines run too hot and can catch fire, and the required intense cosmetic maintenance to install the engine.


As initially drafted, commercial passenger fishing vessels would have been removed from service starting in 2023.



“Many signed the ‘Save Our Boats’ petition, and they should be congratulated for having their voice heard!” shared @savefishing on Instagram immediately after the news broke. The celebration was echoed across all social media platforms as commercial passenger vessel owners cheered for their industry’s win.


The new plan recognizes the significant number of upgrades that have already been done and proposes a more achievable compliance schedule. This is a powerful and positive shift in approach as the state marches down the path of achieving zero-emission engine standards by 2045.


The Sportfishing Association of California and the Golden Gate Fishermen’s Association are key organizations that strongly advocated for amending the proposed regulations. In addition, at the March 24 hearing, both organizations testified that the contemplated changes to the proposed regulations are acceptable.


Key Components of Amended Rules:


  • Vessel owners that haven’t upgraded to Tier 3 engines already will be required to do so by Jan. 1, 2025.


  • Lower emission Tier 4 engines with Diesel Particulate Filters (DPFs) are required by 2035. This provides 12-years to comply, as opposed to the requirement starting as early as Jan. 1, 2023.


  • However, if the mandated technology does not become available or prove safe by 2027, CARB will work with vessel owners to consider alternative technologies and compliance timelines.

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