Updated: Aug 19, 2019
We’ve got a strange and confusing update to the Codfather story that comes to us from SeafoodNews.
Carlos Rafael may be behind bars, but the games continue as the Northeast Seafood Coalition, boat captains, Sector Managers, and potential buyers of the Rafael fleet work to get around regulations put in place to address the largest illegal fishing operation our nation has seen in recent history. You can read more about the illegal actions that led to this moment in a previous blog post.
The current actions of the Northeast Seafood Coalition* seem to be an attempt to circumvent a process that NOAA has put in place to ensure compliance with fisheries laws and regulations. By playing a shell game with permits and boats, the Coalition hopes to force NOAA to allow Rafael's businesses to begin operating again without addressing the underlying issues that led to the illegal harvest, discarding, and sale of massive quantities of fish in New England.
Sector 9, of which Rafael was formerly a member, was shut down by NOAA with negotiations taking place to create a new operations plan including additional reporting and monitoring requirements, which would have been used to ensure compliance with the law. Instead of completing this process, the boats have been moved to a new sector, Sector 7, which already has an approved operations plan. All the boats that previously made up this sector have left, along with their board, so essentially Sector 9 has simply changed its name and expects to be exempted from the process that had previously been taking place.
The New England Fishery Management Council will address this issue at the April Council meeting.
Check out this great article (there is a paywall) at Seafoodnews for the full story.
You can also read the text from the letter sent from NOAA's Greater Atlantic Regional Administrator to the New England Fishery Management Council here.
*The Seafood Coalition's representative on the New England Fishery Management Council was the only Council member to vote against asking NOAA to enforce the sector rules that shut down Sector 9 when the issue came before the Council in the fall of 2017.