Carlos "The Codfather" Rafael Fined for Oily Waste Discharges

Courtesy USCG

Published Aug 9, 2019 2:24 PM by The Maritime Executive

The New Bedford illegal fishing kingpin known as "the Codfather" has agreed to pay a steep fine for oily waste discharges from one of his boats, in addition to many the other civil and criminal charges against his operation. 

Carlos Rafael, who once dominated New Bedford's groundfish fleet, is currently serving a four year term in prison for falsifying catch records and evading taxes. He has already forfeited four boats and 34 fishing permits, and NOAA has sought nearly $1 million in fines, the revocation of his company's seafood dealer license, the cancellation of fishing permits for all the vessels that were implicated in his illegitimate activities, and a lifetime ban on applying for future fishing permits. 

Now, New Bedford-based vessel holding company Vila Nova do Corvo II, Inc., along with Carlos Rafael, company manager Stephanie Rafael DeMello and vessel captain Carlos Pereira, have agreed to pay a total of $511,000 in civil fines for oil pollution violations. 

The penalties resolve federal court claims filed by the U.S. Coast Guard stemming from oily bilge discharges from the fishing vessel Vila Nova do Corvo II, a related discharge of fuel oil filters and violations of pollution control regulations. The complaint also includes a claim for violations of the Coast Guard requirements to provide tank capacity to retain oily bilge water onboard the vessel and piping to transfer the waste ashore for disposal. The violations were discovered by the Coast Guard during boarding operations.

As part of the settlement, the company and company managers will pay civil penalties of $500,000, and the captain of the vessel will pay penalties of $11,000. The consent decree also requires corrective measures to improve the operation of the vessel and prevent future discharges.

The defendants will be required, among other things, to repair the vessel to reduce the generation of oily bilge water, operate within the vessels’ capacity to retain oily bilge for the full length of planned voyages, provide crew and management training on the proper handling of oily wastes, and document all oil and oily waste transfers on and off of the vessels, including documenting proper disposal of engine room bilge water on shore. 

“This case displayed the exceptional joint efforts of Sector Southeastern New England and the Department of Justice, in holding those who pollute our waters accountable,” said Captain Chris J. Glander, commander of Coast Guard Sector Southeastern New England. “We are extremely proud of the teamwork displayed by our boarding teams and marine safety professionals that were an integral part of responding and investigating these occurrences.”

The penalty paid for these discharges and the related pollution prevention violations will be deposited in the federal Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund. The fund is used to pay for spill response activities and compensate for damages due to pollution in federal waters.