Carlos Rafael’s environmental crime spree, spanning two decades, will finally come to an end. Rafael pleaded guilty to federal charges of falsifying fish catch reports, conspiracy and tax evasion. He will serve at least four years in jail and will forfeit millions of dollars in fishing assets. For law-abiding fishermen, this day is long overdue.
While other fishermen were complying with steep reductions in fishing quotas, Rafael decided those rules didn’t apply to him. Rafael’s violations set back groundfish rebuilding requirements, and forced others to compete with his illegal activity on the fishing grounds and in the market. Rafael has harmed the entire groundfish industry, and fishermen from Maine to New York deserve to be compensated.
Rafael’s history is so egregious that the National Marine Fisheries Service is obliged to cancel all his groundfish permits and fishing privileges. Existing regulations describe a process for redistributing the fishing privileges from canceled permits to all other permit holders in the fishery, and this is precisely the process that should be followed in this case.
Associated Fisheries of Maine