New Bedford’s notorious Codfather will serve time in prison, pay stiff financial penalties and is out of fishing for life. Image: Wikipedia Commons

The US government’s case against New Bedford fishing kingpin Carlos Rafael has been concluded – with a $3 million financial penalty, a 46-month prison sentence with three years of supervision on his release, forced divestiture of all fishing interests and a lifelong ban on involvement in fishing.

Carlos Rafael has forfeited two vessels and has no option but to cease commercial with a 31st December deadline and a 31st March 2020 deadline for scalloping, and to relinquish the CarlosSeafood seafood dealer permit by 1st September.

All of his federal fishing permits and vessels must be sold by 31st December 2020, with the sales reviewed and approved by NOAA.

17 of his former skippers are required to serve suspensions of varying periods of between 20 and 200 days, serve probationary periods of between one and three years, on pain of permanent bans from commercial fishing in the event of any violation during a probationary period.

‘US fisheries are among the most sustainable in the world. That achievement is based on dynamic management and by honest fishermen following the rules. Today’s settlement of the government’s civil case against Carlos Rafael accomplishes NOAA’s chief objective of permanently removing Mr. Rafael from participation in federal fisheries,’ commented Assistant Administrator for NOAA Fisheries Chris Oliver in a statement.

‘The settlement also clears the way for Mr. Rafael’s fishing assets that have been tied up in this litigation to be returned to productive use. 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. This settlement also holds accountable the vessel captains who now face suspensions, probationary periods, additional monitoring and reporting requirements, and the threat of a lifetime ban from the industry if they intentionally violate federal fisheries regulations again. It also serves as a reminder that no one is exempt from the rules.’