New England Fisheries

CLF Urges Court to Impose Significant Penalties in Carlos Rafael Case


  • On March 30, 2017, New Bedford-based fishing magnate Carlos Rafael pled guilty to 28 criminal counts against him, including conspiracy to evade federal fishing quotas and profit from the sale of misreported fish, and falsified reporting to the federal government.
  • Rafael’s egregious crimes inflicted severe damage within New England’s fishing community, which has rippled across many of our coastal communities.
  • CLF submitted a victim impact statement urging the Court to impose criminal penalties that reflect the full weight of the severe damage Rafael inflicted through his crimes.



Conservation Law Foundation has submitted a victim impact statement for the judge’s consideration when evaluating appropriate criminal penalties for Rafael in this matter. On behalf of known concerns raised privately and publicly, we call attention to the broad range of victims who are suffering as a result of Rafael’s extensive crimes. We urge the court to impose criminal penalties that are commensurate with the significant economic, reputational, and environmental damage inflicted by Rafael.

Rafael’s crimes have damaged the very foundations of our fisheries regulatory system, undermining the well-being of every participant and stakeholder in that system. We believe Carlos Rafael’s brazen disregard for the law warrants more than a slap on the wrist or a cost of doing business. It is critical that Rafael’s prison term and other penalties send a strong signal that conduct like this will not be tolerated within our nation’s fisheries. In particular, we urge the court to order full forfeiture of all fishing vessels and permits identified as having played a part in Rafael’s criminal enterprise.

Additionally, we urge the court to consider remedies that would help bring relief to the fishery that has borne the brunt of Rafael’s crimes. We call for forfeiture proceeds to fund fisheries monitoring initiatives that would help to mitigate the adverse impacts of Rafael’s crimes.

Rafael is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court September 25-26, 2017.

Want to learn more? Register to attend CLF’s teleconference on Wednesday, September 13, 2017.


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