ROCKLAND – If you are a commercial fisherman one of your biggest expenses is going to be your power plant. Gone are the days of running to the junk yard, pulling a gasoline engine out of a wrecked automobile, putting it in your boat with minor modifications, and off you go. There may be a few gasoline holdouts, but today it is all diesel, and big diesel engines at that. With the concern over the environment there were issues raised as to how much pollution a diesel engine emitted. For years the environmental agencies began placing regulations on engines, but when they came out with the regulations for Tier 4, it was obvious that it was going to be very difficult, if not impossible, for a Maine lobster boat to comply.

After lots of communications, a visit by the EPA to some boatbuilders and a discussion on how the boat is used, the EPA has made an adjustment on the engines that can be used in a lobster boat.

Peter Emerson, of FPT Engines, took it upon himself to see what he could do to help the industry by getting the EPA to roll back their regulations. He said, “We had started this discussion with our local DEP representative who had turned it over to the EPA in late 2016 and here we are in 2020. We, (MLA, State Delegates, Local Boat Builders, Local Marine Engine Dealers and Peter), have convinced the EPA that it was important to make an adjustment.”

“I had conversations back and forth and had provided them with enough information and detail that they decided they really did not understand  a lobster boat application,” continued Peter. “The EPA is a regulatory group, but they rely heavily on industry to guide them. They have an engine manufacturers’ association (EMA), and all the major engine manufacturers are a part of this, Cat, Cummins, FPT, John Deere, Scania, Volvo and Yanmar, are all there and they all have a say. The problem with the timing of all of this, you had Tier 4 final emissions rules that were rolling out for off-highway and you had rule changes for on-highway where all the high volume exists. So, as an engine manufacturer you are going to focus your resources where you are getting your biggest return on investment. Marine is such a small percentage of that business that when this first started being discussed back in 2008 the indicators that they had to go by at the time  wasn’t really a need for more than 600kW in vessels in this commercial marine segment. The general rule was 800 hp, which is 600 kW, 815 metric horsepower, 804 brake horsepower. We had things that were going on that were forcing fishermen to change the way they fished. They were fishing a different way, trawls, not singles and the boats were bigger. A Calvin Beal 38 in 2005 was a big boat. Well, 2012 that no longer was enough boat. Everybody was moving to a 46- or 50-foot boat. To do that job efficiently, and actually have a life, you had to be able to get out and get in and do the work with a bigger boat. So, the average horsepower at that point was 1,000 horsepower. With 2017 coming, and they trying to apply a Tier 4 solution, marine engine manufacturers had no focus on it so there was no solution being created. The engine manufacturer’s association unfortunately dropped the ball. They could have been updating the EPA and even engaging them but as stated previously they were heavily focused on other large volume market segments. When I went to the EPA, they had never heard of any of these product availability issues. They are only as good as the information they are receiving from these bodies and in the end the EPA said, ‘Yes, we need to come out and look at this.’ Often you think that government has no ears. You have a voice, but they are not listening, but that was not the case. They sent out three individuals, Alan, Michael, and Cheryl and all three of them were very open minded. It was November, cold, windy, and wet, and we were at Billing’s Diesel where Greg (Sanborn) was showing us around. Greg has been around a long time and people respect his opinions. We also went to Wesmac and S. W. Boat Works, where they are building and producing many of the hull models that required higher than 800 hp to get the job done.. When we were done, they understood what we were talking about. After treatment systems today that are being used to control emissions, they all have serviceability items and there is no room under the deck and almost impossible to service. They worked very closely with me to get an idea of what kind of kilowatt per liter we are looking at and hull material. What we ended up with is where we are now. They made some really good adjustments for the lobster boat industry and the fishermen who go to work each day.”

“In 2019 we had a meeting in Bath, which included all the engine manufacturers,” continued Peter. “For the most part, they all agreed that this was a big problem. They didn’t have engine solutions and hadn’t developed anything in the 12 to 20-liter category. They agreed trying to apply it in our kind of application where we spend so much time at idle, light load, it was going to pose a lot of potential issues with reliability and effectiveness. Once that meeting happened the ball was rolling. The EPA presented it to their committee and their commission and then it was reviewed. It officially exists here @

Peter added, “To make it real simple for this year 2020 and next, anything under 65 feet (any hull material type), that has a vessel hull speed of greater than or equal to 24 knots applies for the amended rule change. People can continue to use Tier 3 engines of greater than or equal to 27kw/Liter with single engine power of not more than 1400kW and twin engine power of not more than 2800kW up until the end of 2021. They can continue to use Tier 3 even passed 2021 if they have a hull that’s already laid up. Phase 2 starts in 2021 to 2023 where anything less than or equal to 50 feet in fiberglass only can remain Tier 3 as long as hull speed is greater than 22 knots.  Tier 3 maximum allowed engine power from 2022-2023 in this class is limited to 1000kW with a power density of greater than 35kW/Liter.  What is going to happen then is they are going reevaluate the situation and see what is available for Tier 4 products in the 12L-20L engine displacement range. What they might do in 2023 is the lobster boat style application may get exempt indefinitely at that point if no such products exist”