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Art Read
11-21-2011, 05:06 PM
New Bedford fisherman forced to give up 800-pound tuna

Carlos Rafael conducts business on the bridge of the F/V Athena. New Bedford fishing boat owner Carlos Rafael is on of the most influential person on the waterfront. Mr. Rafael who owns over 40 fishing boats is an icon on the waterfront.
PETER PEREIRA/The Standard-Times
By DON CUDDY
doncuddy@s-t.com
November 21, 2011
This fish story may lack the epic qualities of Ernest Hemingway's 1952 classic“The Old Man and the Sea,” but for New Bedford's Carlos Rafael, the outcome was about the same. In both cases, despite capturing and bringing home a huge fish, powerful circum*stances conspired to deprive the luckless fishermen of a potentially huge reward.

Boat owner Rafael, a big player in the local fishing industry, was elated when the crew of his 76-foot steel dragger Apollo told him they had unwittingly captured a giant bluefin tuna in their trawl gear while fishing offshore.

“They didn't catch that fish on the bottom,” he said. “They probably got it in the mid*water when they were setting out and it just got corralled in the net. That only happens once in a blue moon.”

Rafael, who in the last four years purchased 15 tuna permits for his groundfish boats to cover just such an eventuality, imme*diately called a bluefin tuna hot line maintained by fishery regu*lators to report the catch.

When the weather offshore deteriorated, the Apollo decided to seek shelter in Provincetown Harbor on Nov. 12. Rafael imme*diately set off in a truck to meet the boat.

“I wanted to sell the fish while it was fresh instead of letting it age on the boat,”he said.“It was a beautiful fish.”

It was also a lucrative one. Highly prized in Japan, a 754*pound specimen fetched a record price at a Tokyo auction in January this year, selling for nearly $396,000. These fish can grow to enormous size. The world record for a bluefin, which has stood since 1979, was set when a 1,496-pound specimen was caught off Nova Scotia.

However, when Rafael rolled down the dock in Provincetown there was an unexpected and unwelcome development. The authorities were waiting. Agents from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Office of Law Enforcement informed him they were confis*cating his fish — all 881 pounds of it.

Even though the catch had been declared and the boat had a tuna permit, the rules do not allow fishermen to catch bluefin tuna in a net.

“They said it had to be caught with rod and reel,” a frustrated Rafael said.“We didn't try to hide anything. We did everything by the book. Nobody ever told me we couldn't catch it with a net.”

In any case, after being towed for more than two hours in the net, the fish was already dead when the Apollo hauled back its gear, he said.

“What are we supposed to do?” he asked. “They said they were going to give me a warn*ing,” Rafael said. “I think I'm going to surrender all my tuna permits now. What good are they if I can't catch them?”

No charges have yet been filed in connection with the catch, but a written warning is anticipated, according to Chris*tine Patrick, a public affairs specialist with NOAA who said the fish has been forfeited and will be sold on consignment overseas. Proceeds from the sale of the fish will be held in an account pending final reso*lution of the case, NOAA said. No information on the value of the fish was available Friday.

“The matter is still under investigation,”said Monica Allen, deputy director with NOAA Fisheries public affairs. “If it's determined that there has been a violation, the money will go into the asset forfeiture fund.”

“I think I'm going to sur*render all my tuna permits now. What good are they if I can't catch them?”

__________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ ______

Phillip Allen
11-21-2011, 05:13 PM
looks like a simple case of 'revenue enhancement' to me... many here support it

Glen Longino
11-21-2011, 05:18 PM
Something fishy here!

..."many here support it"...
Who, Phillip? Names? Evidence?

Phillip Allen
11-21-2011, 05:19 PM
Something fishy here!

..."many here support it"...
Who, Phillip? Names? Evidence?

we've had the arguments... general about the unoffical tax of speed traps... 'get it whereever you can'

Soundbounder
11-21-2011, 05:28 PM
This isn't the first time there's been problems with bycatch. It's a real dilemma with no easy answers or solutions. Any alternative to bycatch laws , just opens up a new set of problems.


One part of the story, however, did catch my eye:


Nobody ever told me we couldn't catch it with a net.”

He knows darn well his tuna permits are not for nets. He's lying

genglandoh
11-21-2011, 05:31 PM
Sorry, but I fail to see the 'bureaucratic idiocy' here.

The guy's tuna permits were for rod and reel, not nets... unless this guy is claiming otherwise. The guy has the opportunity to contest the action, and the profit from the fish is being held in escrow.

If this were not the case, every dragger under the sun would be dragging a net hoping for a fortuitous 'accident' like this... and constantly raising and lowering the net (since bluefins don't hang out at the bottom). With prices as they are, it's a wonder that bluefin tuna isn't extinct already. I know a guy with a 65' Viking sportfisherman who spends his summers sailing out of Boothbay Harbor, ME, explicitly to catch big tuna... and in a average year, the receipts from just a few fish pay for the entire maintenence and upkeep of his boat, which costs a great deal of money to maintain.

Bluefin tuna are very highly endangered, and it's essential to keep the catch down, for the sake of the species. I specifically don't eat bluefin tuna in sushi restaurants, because of this (albacore is a different story... its comparatively plentiful and not endangered).

I agree with Norm on this one.

genglandoh
11-21-2011, 05:33 PM
This isn't the first time there's been problems with bycatch. It's a real dilemma with no easy answers or solutions. Any alternative to bycatch laws , just opens up a new set of problems.

One part of the story, however, did catch my eye:
He knows darn well his tuna permits are not for nets. He's lying

I agree, I find it hard to believe that a fishermen (who owns 40 boats) would not know what gear is allowed to catch fish with.

Glen Longino
11-21-2011, 05:36 PM
This isn't the first time there's been problems with bycatch. It's a real dilemma with no easy answers or solutions. Any alternative to bycatch laws , just opens up a new set of problems.


One part of the story, however, did catch my eye:



He knows darn well his tuna permits are not for nets. He's lying

Yep!
..."nobody ever told me"...
I noticed that too...very fishy!

Bobcat
11-21-2011, 05:50 PM
Bycatch is always a thorny issue. If you allow the excuse that the catch was accidental for either species or method of fishing, you're just going to have a lot of fish caught "accidentally."

We used to have to throw perfectly good, but dead, silvers and salmon overboard because they were too short.

Ian McColgin
11-21-2011, 06:23 PM
Glad to see that there are many here who can tell the differences between rod and reel or a purse sein (which a commercial boat might also have a blue fin tuna permit for) and the kind of bottom net these draggers were hauling. The idea that the fish got stuck accidentally as the net was being lowered is a crock - they have so much electronic gear that they know where such a fish is. I'd not be surprised if it's eventually proven that this was a deliberate catch to test the law. It's possible that the captain was that inept with his gear and it's possible that the boat owner and captain did not read the permit terms that they had filled out, but really . . .

CK 17
11-21-2011, 06:30 PM
we've had the arguments... general about the unoffical tax of speed traps... 'get it whereever you can'

I've never paid a tax (or a fine) from a speed trap. Smart people avoid that tax. They don't speed.

Phillip Allen
11-21-2011, 06:47 PM
I've never paid a tax (or a fine) from a speed trap. Smart people avoid that tax. They don't speed.

and that ignores my point... is that what you want... punish the lesser (little) people? Very Helmsleyesque of you ("Little people pay the taxes")

Glen Longino
11-21-2011, 06:49 PM
Phillip despises police and loves speeders, felonious scumbags, and gun nuts of all kinds!
His worst fear is that there is an organized plot to take his guns away from him and leave him defenseless against "the libs"! :D

Phillip Allen
11-21-2011, 06:55 PM
Phillip despises police and loves speeders, felonious scumbags, and gun nuts of all kinds!
His worst fear is that there is an organized plot to take his guns away from him and leave him defenseless against "the libs"! :D


now, think about it Glen... if I complain of speed traps for the purpose of taxing/taking tribute from passers through, you CONCLUDE that I hate cops and love speeders... how did you work that out?

Bobcat
11-21-2011, 06:58 PM
Glad to see that there are many here who can tell the differences between rod and reel or a purse sein (which a commercial boat might also have a blue fin tuna permit for) and the kind of bottom net these draggers were hauling. The idea that the fish got stuck accidentally as the net was being lowered is a crock - they have so much electronic gear that they know where such a fish is. I'd not be surprised if it's eventually proven that this was a deliberate catch to test the law. It's possible that the captain was that inept with his gear and it's possible that the boat owner and captain did not read the permit terms that they had filled out, but really . . .

I am not sure that I agree that the catch was intentional, but once they have caught a valuable fish, they wanted to keep it to sell it.

Soundbounder
11-21-2011, 07:33 PM
His worst fear is that there is an organized plot to take his tuna away from him and leave him defenseless against "the libs"! :D
Fixed that for you

brad9798
11-21-2011, 07:55 PM
I HAVE to agree with Norman ... a net is NOT a rod 'n reel ... however unfortunate it is.

Now, THAT being said, sometimes common sense should play a role in events such as this ...

STUPIDITY ALL THE WAY AROUND!!!

:(

Glen Longino
11-21-2011, 08:19 PM
now, think about it Glen... if I complain of speed traps for the purpose of taxing/taking tribute from passers through, you CONCLUDE that I hate cops and love speeders... how did you work that out?

I worked it out very simply by doubting that you know of the existence of more than two speed traps in the entire world, if any at all!:D

Ian McColgin
11-21-2011, 08:29 PM
Of course they'd want to keep it. So would I.

By-catch is indeed one of the major problems. Certain endangered species can be protected by changes in gear, like a few decades ago fishermen moaned mightely about TEDs (turtel exclusion devices) and not they are common sense. Same with species-specific and local specific ways to make fish traps and wiers catch the intended fish and not lots of seals or otters or birds.

I would love to see a day when all fishing techniques are selective enough that whatever by-catch there is both does not damage other population and can be utilized rather than tossed back, so often mangled or dead. No easy answers in fisheries.

CalebD
11-21-2011, 09:45 PM
Rafael probably would have done better by not saying anything and arranging the sale of said Bluefin on the black market, if that still exists.
By-catch is a big issue and common sense is in short supply in many of the fisheries management agencies responses to decline stocks.
East Hampton, NY wanted to (and had been) breeding a stock of winter flounder to introduce into the local waters a few years ago. The state DEP impeded them in a big way.
Some folks on the Chesapeake want to breed oysters on their docks to help re-introduce the once prolific species. I believe that the Maryland DNR folks require you to obtain a permit for such actions.

I suppose the other side of the coin would be the introduction of the nasty Asian carp, Zebra mussels and other invasive species into our watersheds.

There is not easy answer indeed.

Art Read
11-22-2011, 06:13 AM
Did the feds REALLY sell the fish for only $5,000? (That's what they just said on the local news here...) To whom? I'm sure the skipper would have GLADLY paid that to get his fish back. So just who DID get to buy it?

Phillip Allen
11-22-2011, 06:17 AM
looks like a sweetheart deal

Paul Pless
11-22-2011, 06:58 AM
The idea that the fish got stuck accidentally as the net was being lowered is a crock - they have so much electronic gear that they know where such a fish is. I remain skeptical.

Soundbounder
11-22-2011, 07:11 AM
Did the feds REALLY sell the fish for only $5,000? (That's what they just said on the local news here...) To whom? I'm sure the skipper would have GLADLY paid that to get his fish back. So just who DID get to buy it?All I have seen reported is that it COULD fetch $5,000 +

Soundbounder
11-22-2011, 09:48 AM
FoxNews is already in full-distortion mode:


A New Bedford fisherman says he was forced to give up a massive catch. Carlos Rafael told the Boston Globe he has 15 boats that hunt groundfish like haddock and flounder, but also has tuna permits just in case.

Last week, he says one of his boats brought in an 882-pound tuna in their trawling gear.Rafael thought he'd legally be able to sell the fish because he'd done everything by the books, but, when he docked in Provincetown, the feds took the tuna, saying it had to be caught by rod and reel, not by a net, in order to be sold.

Rafael says it would gone for about $5,000.


Read more: http://www.myfoxboston.com/dpp/news/local/fisherman-forced-to-give-up-882-pound-tuna-20111122#ixzz1eRkuzaTb

(http://www.myfoxboston.com/dpp/news/local/fisherman-forced-to-give-up-882-pound-tuna-20111122#ixzz1eRkuzaTb)
Fox & Friends video
http://nation.foxnews.com/weird-news/2011/11/21/new-bedford-fisherman-forced-give-800-pound-tuna


I (http://www.myfoxboston.com/dpp/news/local/fisherman-forced-to-give-up-882-pound-tuna-20111122#ixzz1eRkuzaTb) can't wait to hear commercial fishing expert Sean Hannity's thoughts on this




:rolleyes:

Tall Boy
11-22-2011, 01:00 PM
Did the feds REALLY sell the fish for only $5,000? (That's what they just said on the local news here...) To whom? ?

Sushi at the White House tonight? Serves them right, how dare they take one of the king's fish........
A fish that big is hugely valuable — a 754pound tuna recently sold for nearly $396,000.
Rafael's fish will be sold overseas. He will likely get a warning and no share of the proceeds if regulators find a violation.

CK 17
11-22-2011, 09:58 PM
and that ignores my point... is that what you want... punish the lesser (little) people? Very Helmsleyesque of you ("Little people pay the taxes")

Was that your point? I guess I missed it. Go figger.

I always thought speeding tickets were given out based on speed of the vehicle and not income of the driver. Then again I've never gotten one and am not exactly rich.

Soundbounder
11-22-2011, 10:41 PM
HIJACK Alert!

Soundbounder
11-23-2011, 06:06 AM
NOAA Comments on Carlos Rafael's Tuna Seizure





NOAA Law Enforcement provided Saving Seafood with the following comment and explanation of its enforcement actions in the case of the 881 pound bluefin tuna caught by a vessel owned by Carlos Rafael of New Bedford. The story was first reported yesterday and has since "gone vira;" receiving national attention from media outlets coast-to-coast and and in Canada, as well as hundreds of web sites around the world.


The tuna was seized under the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act. Under that Act, it is unlawful for any person or vessel subject to U.S. jurisdiction to fish for, catch, retain or possess a bluefin tuna with gear not authorized by the vessel's category permit. In fact, it's even unlawful to have a bluefin tuna in possession if the vessel has a permit but also has gear not authorized by that permit on board.

This vessel has a general category permit for bluefin tuna. Under the general category regulations, bluefin tuna must be caught with rod and reel (including downriggers), handline, harpoon, bandit gear or green-stick.

This particular tuna was caught in a trawl net. There is no permit that allows bluefin tuna to be caught with trawl net.

Bluefin tuna is a highly regulated, highly competitive fishery, and the U.S. bluefin tuna quota is allocated fully to those fishing categories based on traditional gear types, which does not include trawl nets. Bluefin tuna are overfished, and there is insufficient quota to allow for incidental landings by all gears that have the potential to catch bluefin tuna on occasion. Furthermore, given the high value of individual bluefin tuna, regulations are strictly enforced to ensure equitable fishing opportunities amongst the many user categories Atlantic Coast-wide.

The tuna was seized by NOAA's Office of Law Enforcement and was sold. While the amount is unknown at this time, the proceeds will go into a suspense account pending forfeiture proceedings or abandonment of the fish by all interested parties. Abandonment is a voluntary process whereby an individual voluntarily abandons his title and interest in the property, whereas forfeiture is a legal action in U.S. District Court whereby the U.S. Government seeks forfeiture of the seized property.

In this case, the owner already has signed an abandonment form, and a written warning has been issued to the corporation that owns the vessel. Those who receive written warnings may choose to contest those warnings.

For more information, here is a link to the Highly Migratory Species Bluefin Tuna Guide:
http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/Compliance_Guide/index.htm

Ian McColgin
11-23-2011, 08:45 AM
Good clear explanation. It was black letter obvious in the rules from the start and one can only wonder at Rafael's "surprise". He is quite right to not bother with permits in the future.

We have problems with over-zealous and idiotic NOAA v Fisherman enforcement without some provocateur deliberatly setting up a phoney confrontation.

Soundbounder
11-23-2011, 10:16 AM
Rafael has had a few run-ins with the law:

Coast Guard finds hidden compartment on New Bedford scalloper


NEW BEDFORD — Coast Guard inspectors found an insulated, lit and drained secret compartment earlier this month on the 94-foot scalloper Vila Nova Do Corvo II belonging to Carlos Raphael, who runs the largest fleet of fishing boats in the city.According to Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Ryan Hamel, an enforcement officer for the 1st Coast Guard District, the compartment was empty and large enough for a man to easily enter. It was discovered by removing a panel in the forward bulkhead of the crew head as the four-man inspection team surveyed the boat for unaccounted-for space.

http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20110819/NEWS/108190307

Soundbounder
11-23-2011, 10:40 AM
Coast Guard finds hidden hold in fishing leader's boat


For the second time in three months, the U.S. Coast Guard has charged the captain of a fishing boat in the fleet of Carlos Raphael, an influential New Bedford businessman and New England industry leader, with operating while having a hidden compartment on board.


An admiral estimated the discovery meant the boat could have illegally generated $3 million this year from a hidden harvest of scallops — the No. 1 cash crop in U.S. fisheries, and the hallmark that has made New Bedford the nation's port of highest valued landings.
Raphael owns New Bedford's largest fleet, estimated at more than two dozen active groundfish and scallop boats. He also serves as a board member of the Gloucester-based Northeast Seafood Coalition.


The Coast Guard announced that the 67-foot F/V Dinah Jane, which is owned by a corporation controlled by Raphael, was boarded Friday near Block Island, R.I. by a team from the cutter Bainbridge Island while fishing for scallops.


The captain, who was not identified, and the vessel were charged with "having a hidden compartment" and "impeding a Coast Guard boarding," said the release by First District (Boston) Public Affairs.


Rear Adm. Daniel Neptun, commander of the Coast Guard's First District out of Boston, said in the statement that the hidden compartment was estimated to be capable of concealing up to 2,750 pounds of scallops, "which over the course of limited access individual fishing quota trips this year, could have concealed an additional 300,000 pounds of fresh scallops, with commensurate market value of $3 million."

http://www.gloucestertimes.com/local/x459219868/Coast-Guard-finds-hidden-hold-in-fishing-leaders-boat/print