San Diego fishing fleet battles regulation
As the founder and executive director of the Good Neighbor Project in Logan Heights, John Alvarado has seen how getting on a boat, landing a fish, and breathing the fresh ocean air can forever change the path of life.
He saw young gang members, not yet old enough to shave, rethink perilous paths they thought were cast in quick-drying concrete. He saw them happily throwing anchovies in the air at seagulls in a circle, as the weight of the world melted.
So it’s understandable – personal, even – for Alvarado to talk about the disastrous effects of the California Air Resources Board’s pending emissions regulations that threaten the existence of the San Diego sport fishing fleet and many businesses along it. unique and essential food chain.
“Being an at-risk youth myself, being in nature has had a therapeutic effect on my life, so much so that it has changed the meaning of my life,” he said. “There are people who live a mile from the water’s edge who have never been on the ocean, who have never been on a boat.
“We can make a difference in the lives of children. I saw. I lived it.
This is the danger posed by an inflexible bureaucracy that lacks the desire or willingness to explore reasonable common ground related to something that endangers educational programs for children, crucial experiences for veterans. military personnel with PTSD and vital tourist dollars from bay tours and whale watching.
As CARB tries to meet clean air benchmarks – which everyone agrees is important – it has targeted one of the smallest groups of vessels in this ecosystem, produces a timeline unreasonable, did not commit to granting programs that would help the fleet to comply and have the required engine. technology that (wait for it) does not currently exist for this class of boats and, worryingly, lacks safety testing.
For older ships, which may constitute the majority in many ports, as yet unproduced engines probably cannot be retrofitted. The answer, according to CARB, is to buy new multi-million dollar ships as decades of investment evaporate.
The solution, according to CARB: passing costs on to customers. It’s like assigning a business fee to restaurants, shrugging their shoulders and telling them to charge $ 50 for a burger. Cue the tumbleweeds.
Memo to Sacramento and Governor Gavin Newsom: All these families and businesses do not go without a fight.
This week, groups supporting the cause (savefishing.com) drew more than 20,000 signatures against the capital’s current air regulation plan. They have secured the support of 21 chambers of commerce and travel agencies that dot the California coastline. Lobbyists fill the halls.
Included in this push are chamber groups at Dana Point, San Clemente, and Oceanside, as well as the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.
“Its impact is (several hundred million dollars) just in San Diego,” said San Diego Chamber Chief and former Mayor Jerry Sanders. “I thought it was all the rich white people doing that. When I go there, all of San Diego is there. The diversity was striking.
“CARB stands don’t make sense. The technology does not exist. If you can’t use these boats and you can’t comply with the law because there is no solution to it, it dies.
“This is the case with decision-makers who don’t understand what the problem is. I don’t think they really care what impact it will have on small businesses. It threw the whole industry into turmoil.
Strong words, wisely and rightly spoken.
Access to California’s coastal waterways comes, for many, from the generosity of sport fishing fleets who simply wish to share an experience so essential to their lives and livelihoods.
The Captain Rollo’s Kids at Sea program alone has exposed approximately 140,000 children to marine opportunities and stewardship responsibilities since 1999. The San Diego-based Sportfishing Association of California has partnered countless times. with groups to do the same. And so on.
Two years ago I wrote a column about the PTSD veterans who fished on the Fisherman III at H&M Landing in San Diego.
Here’s what I heard: “It’s a chance to leave your problems out there (on earth). “It distracts me from the bad things in life.” “You tend to isolate yourself. It is a blessing, as many of us normally cannot afford to do this.
All of this could go away, simply because landlocked offices refuse to consider a thoughtful and empathetic compromise.
Bonnie Soriano, a branch supervisor for CARB, told the Union-Tribune in July that the group felt caught in the midst of heated arguments from environmentalists and those from a critical coastal industry.
“We have environmental groups pushing us to demand zero emissions from every harbor boat,” Soriano said. “We worked with the industry to work on flexibility (and) come to some common ground based on what’s doable and… what we think the economy could support.”
Many common ground debates remain.
It’s not a stubborn all-or-nothing stance on the part of the families and small businesses that make up the bulk of the fleet. Instead of the soon-to-be-required Tier 4 engines that are not yet available, the fishermen suggested upgrading the Tier 3 engines that exist for this class of boats without sinking operations.
“Financially, we haven’t even gotten out of COVID,” said Ken Franke, president of the Sportfishing Association of California. “The industry is very fragile right now. The timing is bad enough. They are doing all they can, switching to better fuel quality compared to the latest demands. People have improved the engines.
“Now they’re putting a bar that’s so hard to hit on them. It creates incredible stress on all of these people.
There are family boats of generational owners who plan to sell the operations to finance pensions. If the current regulations were maintained, boats that could not be modernized would become essentially worthless.
“When a water heater goes out, you don’t tear down the whole house,” Franke said. “If we could say one thing to CARB and the Governor, our message has been the same from day one. Work with us to find something that is achievable.
Public comments at CARB opened a week ago and end on November 8. A public hearing is scheduled for November 19.
Sanders, the former mayor of San Diego, shared a snapshot of his life.
“We used to go on the half-day boats when we were kids in Long Beach,” he said. “My parents dropped us off at the wharf and we had a blast. I am concerned about the number of children who will not have this opportunity if this industry does not survive.
No need to tell Alvarado.
“It’s amazing what being on the water can do for a kid,” he said.
Hope this is never a thing of the past.