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October 12, 2018

Builders of big boats hampered by lack of big engines

Builders of big lobster boats ranging up to 60 feet long are having trouble finding the engines the boats need.

"There are no engines available that are big enough to safely operate our (biggest) boats offshore," Stewart Workman, owner of SW Boatworks in Lamoine, told the Ellsworth American.

New U.S. Environmental Protection Agency emissions requirements make the emission control equipment too complicated and expensive to develop for lobster boat engines, Peter Emerson, a product support specialist from diesel engine supplier Mack Boring & Parts Co., told the newspaper.

Lobster fishing outside of the three-mile state water line — along with bigger boats — are growing trends over the past decade, the Working Waterfront reported in 2016. That's partly to avoid crowded inshore fishing grounds and partly because the lobster resource is increasingly found offshore due to changing ocean conditions.

According to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, more than 98% of the total Gulf of Maine catch comes from the "near-shore" area. "Inshore" is defined as state waters from zero to 3 miles, "near-shore" as 0 to 12 miles, and "offshore" as 12 to 200 miles.

According to the Maine Lobstermen's Community Alliance October newsletter, the Maine Lobstermen's Association has been working with a Mack Boring engineer and Maine's Congressional delegation to seek relief for Maine's boatbuilders and lobstermen regarding the "onerous" engine standards, "which are impossible for Maine's boat builders to comply with."

The standards apply to marine engines over 800 horsepower. There are currently no solutions for Maine lobster boats, leaving those who wish to power new vessels at the required level without any engine options, the newsletter says, adding, "Since the EPA rules are already in place, a resolution to this issue has been difficult to identify."

Steve Arnold, owner of Yarmouth Boat yard, Moose Landing Marina and the Freedom Boat Club franchise for Maine, also alluded to the engine-supply shortage in a recent "On the Record" interview with Mainebiz.

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