In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Tuesday, March 1

Judge Laplante finds "each argument meritless" in Captain David Goethel and Sector 13's lawsuit against the federal government. Image via NOAA.

  • The Boston Globe details the illegal activity of Carlos Rafael and his bookkeeper that led to their arrest last week. Rafael allegedly told his boat captains to mislabel fish in order to avoid quota limits. His company would then buy the “haddock” at a lower price and sell it at market price in New York. He was charged with falsifying federal documents after federal agents posed as Russian gangsters wanting to buy his business. Rafael’s tax statements indicated that his business’s combined assets were worth $21 million, but he offered to sell it to the undercover agents for $175 million.
  • Carlos Rafael’s arrest may have a “Gloucester connection,” reports the Gloucester Daily Times. In the affidavit, the New York man who is Rafael’s alleged buyer states, “I’m only using him [Rafael] and the other guy in Gloucester.” This could refer to someone involved in providing fish off-the-books or involvement in money laundering – the affidavit is unclear.
  • As of today, March 1, New England fishermen in the groundfish industry begin paying for the cost of at-sea monitoring. NOAA Fisheries no longer has money in the budget to fund the program. Monitors will be on 20 percent of groundfish trips.
  • Massachusetts Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr and Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante wrote a letter to Attorney General Maura Healey asking for her support in the at-sea monitoring federal lawsuit. They asserted that Gloucester groundfish fishermen are facing the same plight as Mr. Goethel and other New Hampshire fishermen.
  • An investigation that began last week discovered that lobsters had been illegally taken from about 200 traps near Jeffrey’s Ledge, about 30 miles off the coast of New Hampshire. The Maine Operation Game Thief is offering an $11,000 reward for information that leads to those responsible.
  • The Center for Coastal Studies observed nine North Atlantic right whales in Cape Cod Bay. This indicates the beginning of the 2016 right whale season. The whales come to the area each year to feed. Boaters should keep a safe distance.
  • New England fishermen are finding more black sea bass in the nets as the fish migrate north as water temperatures increase. Last year, fishermen exceeded their black sea bass quota by 33 percent, 762,000 pounds, and as a result, the Atlantic State Marine Fisheries Commission reduced the quota by 23 percent. Massachusetts state regulators met last week but are still weighing options for how to divide the quota.
  • The City of New Bedford launched a Clean Bilge pilot program. The city’s Harbor Development Commission will work directly with commercial vessel operators and provide guidance on how to reduce oils spills and contaminated bilge entering the harbor. The program is funded by Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

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