Carlos Rafael faces nearly USD 1 million in fines in NOAA civil action
The United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has issued a civil administrative enforcement action seeking nearly USD 1 million (EUR 831,150) in penalties against Carlos Rafael, as well as from the scallop vessel captains associated with Rafael.
In the charging documents, NOAA alleges 35 violations of the Magnuson-Stevens Act by Carlos Rafael, Carlos Seafoods, two of Carlos Rafael’s scallop vessel captains, and 28 separate business entities related to Carlos Rafael, Kate Brogan, a NOAA spokesperson, told SeafoodSource.
The civil action, issued by NOAA on 10 January, is the latest fallout from the Rafael tax evasion case, which resulted in a sentence of nearly four years in prison and a USD 200,000 (EUR 166,000) fine against Rafael.
In October, a federal judge approved the seizure of four of Rafael’s vessels and their associated permits, as punishment for his role in orchestrating a quota and tax evasion scheme.
In addition, NOAA revoked the operational plans for Rafael’s groundfish vessels in November. However, the groundfishing ban has cost the Port of New Bedford up to 500,000 (EUR 415,405) per day and put an estimated 80 fishermen out of work, New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell told South Coast Today.
According to Brogan, the new civil action would impose USD 983,528 (EUR 817,066) in penalties and deny any future application by Carlos Rafael for any permit issued by NOAA under the Magnuson-Stevens Act.
In addition, NOAA said that the seafood dealer permit issued to Carlos Seafood, Inc., should be revoked, along with 38 commercial fishing permits and the operator permits issued to two of Rafael’s scallop vessel captains.
NOAA is seeking USD 843,528 (EUR 700,761) and the revocation of the relevant scallop boat permits for misreporting scallops harvested.
“On four separate fishing trips in 2013, Rafael and related entities, along with two of his fishing vessel operators, filed false reports regarding the amount of scallops harvested by four vessels,” NOAA said.
NOAA brought the scallop charges against Carlos Rafael; Carlos Seafood, Inc.; Manuel Pereira, the operator of the F/V Ilha Brava; C & C Fishing Corp., the owner of the F/V Ilha Brava; and Carlos Pereira, operator of the F/V Vila Nova Do Corvo II and Vila Nova Do Corvo II, Inc. as well as the operator of the F/V Acores and Ivonilde Fishing Corp.
In a new action that differs from the criminal complaint, NOAA is also seeking a fine of USD 140,000 (EUR 116,305) and the revocation of numerous fishing permits after Rafael and related entities misreported where they caught yellowtail flounder in 2012.
The action, which was not a part of the Rafael criminal case, was brought against Apollo Fishing; Athena Fishing Corp.; B & D Fishing Corp.; C & C Fishing Corp.; C & D Fishing Corp.; C & V Fishing Corp.; Corvo LLC; F & C Fishing Corp.; Lady Patricia, Inc.; Leeanne & Noah Fishing, LLC; My Way Fishing, LLC; Olivia & Rafaela Fishing, LLC; R & P Fishing Corp.; R & C Fishing Corp.; Rafaela, LLC; S & S Fishing, LLC; Sasha Lee, Inc.; Tyler Fishing, LLC; and Vila Fishing Corp., all entities owned or controlled by Carlos Rafael.
In addition, NOAA wants to revoke the fishing permits associated with vessels that misreported species landed, as detailed in Rafael’s recent criminal case.
“For these violations, NOAA seeks to revoke the federal fisheries permits associated with the vessels at issue in the criminal case, but does not seek monetary penalties,” Brogan said.