Blue Harvest brings second former “Codfather” vessel online
Blue Harvest Fisheries, based in New Bedford, Massachusetts, announced the launch of the Carrabassett, a vessel purchased in February from the family of Carlos Rafael, a.k.a the “Codfather.”
The Carrabassett is a 78-foot trawler that was previously known as the Cowboy, according to a release by Blue Harvest. It joins the Allagash – formerly the Southern Crusader II – which was launched in July. Blue Harvest added that it plans to launch the third vessel, the Schelvis – formerly known as the Glaucus – later this fall.
All told, Blue Harvest is planning to launch three refitted and repaired vessels this year, of the 12 vessels and 27 permits that the company acquired back in February.
The launching of the vessels out of New Bedford amounts to a promise kept by Blue Harvest, according to Blue Harvest CEO Keith Decker.
“We promised when we acquired these vessels that we would be keeping them in New Bedford, and that we would be investing in this city’s historic fishing industry. Those weren’t just words to us,” Decker said. “We’re proud of the improvements we’ve made to these vessels, which will provide good jobs here in New Bedford, and high-quality seafood around the country.”
The new names come along with a whole set of new refitted gear, including new fishing gear and updated electronics, according to Blue Harvest. The decks of the two vessels that have been launched also have retrofitted decks, according to the company, allowing for quicker processing of the catch.
“The Schelvis is undergoing far greater changes that will allow catch to be stored in superchilled tanks of water that will help keep the fish fresher, longer,” Blue Harvest wrote.
The launching of the vessels marks the end of a multi-year saga involving Rafael’s falsification of fish quotas and tax evasion, which led to a guilty plea in 2017. A later civil case, brought by NOAA, was finally settled in 2019, and required Rafael to sell all his limited access fishing permits and vessels and pay a civil penalty greater than USD 3 million (EUR 2.5 million).
Following the cases, Blue Harvest spend over a year working to acquire the vessels and begin fishing them out of New Bedford.
“Our focus is to build an enduring vertically-integrated fishing company in New England,” Decker told SeafoodSource in February, when the sale went through.
Photo courtesy of Blue Harvest Fisheries