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Old 11-22-2011, 12:40 PM
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Default New Bedford fisherman forced to give up 800-pound tuna

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 midXwater 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, immeXdiately called a bluefin tuna hot line maintained by fishery reguXlators to report the catch.

When the weather offshore deteriorated, the Apollo decided to seek shelter in Provincetown Harbor on Nov. 12. Rafael immeXdiately 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 754Xpound 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 confisXcating 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 warnXing,? 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 ChrisXtine 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 resoXlution 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 surXrender all my tuna permits now. What good are they if I can't catch them??


The owner was also on Fox & Friends this morning:

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Old 11-29-2011, 04:15 PM
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Default Re: New Bedford fisherman forced to give up 800-pound tuna

Turns out, Carlos Rafael also sits on the current Board of Directors for the Northeast Seafood Coalition.

What is the mission of the Northeast Seafood Coalition?

"The Northeast Seafood Coalition is dedicated to working with government regulations and environmental concerns to preserve the long-term health of fishery resources, fishing communities and the fishing industry."

What does the Northeast Seafood Coalition Do?

"The work of the NSC is geared toward crafting solutions to complex fishery problems. The NSC strives to find creative solutions that work to rebuild fish stocks while preserving family-owned fishing businesses, a diverse groundfish fleet and fishing communities across the Northeast."

How could someone who is on the board of directors for a group whose primary mission is working with the government regulations directly associated with fisheries and the fishing industry claim ignorance of these regulations and therefore didn't deserve to have his fish impounded?

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