Wife wants half of “Codfather” fishing fleet
The wife of Carlos “The Codfather” Rafael is claiming that half of the vessels in her husband’s fishing fleet belong to her.
In a petition filed in federal court in Massachusetts on 28 August, Conceicao Rafael said she owns 50 percent of eight fishing vessels and three fishing companies that are tentatively subject to forfeiture by the United States government.
Carlos Rafael, owner of Carlos Seafood, pleaded guilty to falsifying fish quotas, tax evasion, and conspiracy in late March. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for 25 September and 26 September in U.S. District Court in Boston. As part of his guilty plea, Rafael will forfeit 13 fishing boats and their associated groundfish permits. The permits would return to the National Marine Fisheries Service as part of the criminal case.
Conceicao Rafael she “did not know and should not have known” the fishing vessels and the companies My Way Fishing, Corvo, and S & S Fishing would be used in an illegal scam. Therefore, she and the fishing companies have a right to 50 percent of the boats that are subject to forfeiture.
In addition, Rafael associate Joao Camara has claimed legal ownership of one of the fishing vessels - Southern Crusader II owned by R and C Fishing Corp. – that will be forfeited.
The claims complicate an already muddled process for distributing Rafael’s soon-to-be-seized fishing permits.
A dozen Massachusetts legislators recently said that any settlement in the Rafael court case should be used to pay for electronic monitoring on fishing vessels. In addition, they said in a letter to Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker obtained by SeafoodSource, that Rafael’s fishing permits should be re-distributed to commercial fishermen in Massachusetts.
In June, officials in Rafael’s home port of New Bedford, Massachusetts, urged the federal government to maintain the permits in the local area. New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell appealed to the Justice Department and NOAA, saying removing the permits from New Bedford would harm the local economy. However, Maine’s bipartisan congressional delegation recently sent a letter to U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross asking that the permits be redistributed beyond the city.
Others from within the regional fishing industry say the permits should be returned to a general pool and redistributed equally throughout New England, saying fishermen throughout the entire area suffered as a result of Rafael’s actions.