A fishing magnate known as the Codfather will never be allowed to return to US fisheries, the federal government said Monday in announcing it has settled its civil case against a man whose arrest for shirking quotas and smuggling profits overseas shocked the East Coast industry. The settlement with Carlos Rafael and his fishing captains will clear the way for his assets to be divested, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said. Those assets have been embroiled in litigation. Rafael was based out of New Bedford, Mass., and was sentenced to nearly four years in prison in 2017. He was owner of one of the largest commercial fishing operations in the country. NOAA Fisheries Assistant Administrator Chris Oliver said Monday the settlement "accomplishes NOAA's chief objective of permanently removing Mr. Rafael from participation in federal fisheries."
"Mr. Rafael's forced divestiture and permanent ban from commercial fishing is a fitting end to this case, on top of the criminal sentence he is already serving," Oliver said. NOAA's settlement with Rafael also states he is required to pay a civil penalty of just over $3 million and relinquish a seafood dealer permit, the AP reports. He has until the end of 2020 to sell fishing permits and vessels he owns and controls, and the transactions must be approved by NOAA. Seventeen of Rafael's former fishing vessel captains also face penalties under the settlement. Rafael eventually pleaded guilty to false labeling and other charges after federal authorities charged that he was operating an elaborate fish fraud. They said his vessels claimed to catch haddock or pollock when they had actually brought species to shore that are subject to stricter quotas. He then smuggled proceeds to Portugal.
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