Police seize scallops from Codfather vessel
A Carlos Rafael-owned scallop vessel is currently in hot water with Massachusetts authorities after 120 pounds of scallops were confiscated off of the boat on Sunday, 28 January, following a routine inspection.
The F/V Dinah Jane was boarded by Massachusetts Environmental Police on Sunday, and had its haul offloaded for inspection. Officials allegedly asked the crew several times if there was any additional catch onboard the boat beyond the allocated 800 pounds, and were met with assurances from the scallop fishers that there was not, according to a report from South Coast Today. But, buried under the ice in the fish hold was an additional 120 pounds of scallops, said Major Pat Moran, an officer with the environmental police force stationed near to New Bedford, Massachusetts.
The confiscated catch is now being held the National Marine Fisheries Service, which will determine its final destination. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has also opened an investigation into the incident, the newspaper reported.
Carlos “Codfather” Rafael is currently serving a 46-month prison sentence for falsifying fishing quotas, bulk cash smuggling, and tax evasion, and his groundfishing fleet has been sidelined. However, the disgraced magnate’s scalloping vessels, including the Dinah Jane, had been permitted to continue working waters for catch following a ruling by a federal judge in October 2017, which allowed for only a partial seizure of Rafael’s fleet and permits.
The Dinah Jane isn’t the only Rafael-owned vessel to run into legal issues in the wake of Rafael’s incarceration. Massachusetts State Representative Bill Straus uncovered an incident in August 2017 while sifting through public records, wherein the Lady Patricia was caught “fishing without proper VMS [Vessel Monitoring System] designation” by the U.S. Coast Guard. Strauss told South Coast Today that NOAA has not taken action for the violation, which occurred after Rafael’s guilty plea in March 2017.
NOAA has said it intends to revoke 38 of Rafael’s commercial fishing permits as well as the operator permits of two scallop vessel captains through a series of civil measures levied against the former Carlos Seafoods owner in January 2018. NOAA also said it hopes to impose a USD 983,528 (EUR 790,583) fine on Rafael, revoke the seafood dealer permit issued to Carlos Seafood Inc., and deny all future applications for permits submitted by Rafael. The agency is bringing new charges surrounding scallops in its civil action as well, claiming an excessive amount of scallops were harvested by Rafael’s fleet in 2013 in four instances.
Once his prison sentence is over Rafael has been ordered to undergo three years of supervised release and pay a USD 200,000 (EUR 169,000) fine.