Details of the Settlement of the Government’s Civil Case Against Carlos Rafael and His Fishing Captains
On August 19, 2019, NOAA settled its pending civil administrative claims against Carlos Rafael and his fishing captains.
Under the terms of the settlement, Rafael is required to:
- Pay a $3,010,633 civil monetary penalty;
- Relinquish the seafood dealer permit issued to Carlos Seafood, by September 1, 2019;
- Permanently cease all commercial fishing, except for scalloping, by December 31, 2019; scalloping must cease by March 31, 2020; and
- Sell all limited access federal fishing permits and fishing vessels he owns or controls, by December 31, 2020, through transactions reviewed and approved by NOAA.
In addition, 17 of Rafael’s former fishing vessel captains are required to:
- Serve suspensions of their operator permits during which they cannot be aboard a federally permitted vessel while it is at sea or offloading. The periods of suspension range between 20 and 200 days and are based on the number and severity of each captain’s violations;
- Serve probationary periods ranging between 1 and 3 years (likewise, based on the number and severity of their violations). During their probationary periods, the captains also agree to be subject to additional monitoring and reporting requirements; and
- Permanently relinquish their operator permit and be banned from commercial fishing if they are found liable for an intentional or reckless violation during their period of probation.
Rafael’s $3 million penalty, forced divestiture, and permanent ban on commercial fishing provided for in this settlement come on top of his criminal sentence for conduct that also was at issue in this case. For his criminal violations, Rafael was sentenced to 46 months of incarceration, approximately $300,000 in fines and restitution, and three years of supervised release, during which he is barred from the fishing industry. He also forfeited two fishing vessels in connection with his criminal case.
Pursuant to the forced divestiture, Rafael is required to sell his fishing vessels and permits and will be allowed to retain the proceeds. The great majority of Rafael’s civil and criminal violations involved the groundfish fishery; Rafael’s highly valued scallop permits were not used in those violations.