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Commercial Fisherman Nets 881 lb. Tuna, Confiscated by Feds

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November 22, 2011

Commercial Fisherman Nets 881 lb. Tuna, Confiscated by Feds

By Chad Love

A Connecticut commercial fisherman who accidentally caught a giant 881-pound bluefin tuna, but had a permit for it just in case, was forced to cough up the potentially lucrative catch to federal regulators because the fish was caught it a net.

From this story in the Boston Globe:

For one New Bedford fisherman, the big one that got away was the one that was taken away -- by federal fisheries agents. Carlos Rafael, owner of Carlos Seafood, has 15 boats that hunt for groundfish like haddock and flounder, but they have tuna permits just in case.

So when one of his captains called to report that his crew had caught an 882-pound tuna in their trawling gear about a week ago, Rafael thought he would legally be able to sell the fish. “I called the hotline for tuna to make sure I was doing everything by the books,” he said. “I was not trying to hide anything.”

But when the fishing boat docked in Provincetown, the fish was confiscated by federal agents. Rafael said he didn’t know that tuna must be caught by rod and reel – not by a net – in order to be kept and sold. “They told me everything you have to do, but they didn’t tell me that,” Rafael said. The fish would have sold for almost $5,000, Rafael said. Since the fish was already dead, the government will sell the tuna, he said. He was given a warning by the agents. “I’m going to surrender all my permits. I pay all that money every year,” he said. “Next time I catch [a tuna] I’m going to throw it over the side.” A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration spokeswoman didn’t immediately have a comment.

Is it a case of "them's the rules and ya gotta follow them" or an example of federal regulations jumping the shark (or tuna, in this case)? Either way, too bad a rare giant like that ended its life in a net. Could you imagine hooking an almost 900 pound bluefin on a rod? I believe I'd give up a very important part of my anatomy for a chance to catch any bluefin, much less one like that.

Comments (15)

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from Greenhead wrote 2 years 21 weeks ago

Its a cruddy result, but that is the way it needs to be. If that wasn't the case, bluefin would be over fished even more than they already are.

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from ableskeever wrote 2 years 21 weeks ago

What needs to be learned is that, yes, the regulations need to be followed, AND they could very likely use a tune-up to add some clarity. The method is very important. My dad (a judge) was presiding over a case where a man was caught spearfishing for trout. A fisherman himself, my dad asked the game warden if using a spear made as much a difference. The warden told him that this method could decimate the trout population. Those rules are in place for a reason.

If this guy was purchasing the permits, he probably should have read the regulations regarding them. Lucky for him he got off with a warning.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike Diehl wrote 2 years 21 weeks ago

New Bedford and Provincetown are in Massachusetts, not Connecticut.

The basic problem is intent. They don't want people to net tuna, obviously, because the species are sort of rare. And also obviously, this guy was not TRYING to net a Tuna. No doubt the tuna was opportunistically foraging from the fisherman's catch.

Them's the rules. But they should be changed. Basically the tuna was a "bycatch." The rules should encourage fishermen to make good use of bycatch, not penalize them for it.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Greenhead wrote 2 years 21 weeks ago

Mike, I agree with your common sense approach, but am afraid that if they changed the rules, a lot of guys would start "accidentally" catching a whole lot more tuna.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Steward wrote 2 years 21 weeks ago

You do have to obey the rules. I can't suggest a better solution, but the result in this situation is bad: "Next time I catch [a tuna] I’m going to throw it over the side." So that will be a fish wasted, which is ridiculous, if it cannot survive.

It does sound like the permit process was a bit lacking, that he could get the permits and not know that they would be worthless. What did the permits cost?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jakenbake wrote 2 years 21 weeks ago

Greenhead's right. The more acceptable "bycatch" of valuable species is, the more "bycatch" there will be. Can't have that when we're mismanaging the species towards complete extirpation.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from 784512 wrote 2 years 21 weeks ago

There's a better picture of the actual tuna on the Yahoo webpage: http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/man-catches-881-pound-tuna-seized-f.... Amazingly big!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Blue Ox wrote 2 years 21 weeks ago

I think the feds have better things to do than waste my money by busting this guy's chops.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from badsmerf wrote 2 years 21 weeks ago

Thats too bad.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from gijustin wrote 2 years 21 weeks ago

No sympathy here. If I killed a deer with an illegal method, I would be lucky not to face jail time. Every year I get a copy of the regulations. They are posted for free on the TPWD website and given out for free anywhere licenses are sold in the State of Texas. There is no reason why anyone should illegally take any game animal.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Steward wrote 2 years 21 weeks ago

I agree with you, "gijustin," about the regs; however, our livelihood does not involve catching "game animals" with a large net. We don't have worry about a game animal, for which we do not have a tag, wandering into the point of our arrow.

Is the tuna alive or dead when it is pulled onto the boat? If it is alive, then dump it over the side of the boat and move on. If it is dead...what a waste, because it sounds like it is still going to be going over the side.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Beekeeper wrote 2 years 21 weeks ago

I'd bet that tuna of that stature don't show up in ground fishing gear very often. I agree with Mike Diehl that by-catch should be used in a constructive way and not tossed over the side for the sharks to feed on, a mature dead fish is a mature dead fish. They don't reanimate when tossed over the side! If you don't want by-catch then stop allowing nets to be used in general.
You can be assured that the Chinese don't follow the same rules in their waters as we do!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jmshackelfo@aol.com wrote 2 years 20 weeks ago

I wounder why they didn't tell him when he got the permet that it was for rod and real and not neting tuna. It is very cool that the captin told everyone and did the right thing. Thats a lot of money for him to give up. Probobly why he got a warning.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ableskeever wrote 2 years 20 weeks ago

Wouldn't be too hard to set up a donation for the meat to go to charity for the accidentally netted tuna. No harm, no foul.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from AmericanFishFinder wrote 2 years 20 weeks ago

Seems strange the government would sell it. Why do they deserve the sell? I say let Carlos sell it, but than give him a fine for catching it and a warning to not catch it like that again. Or donate the tuna. Kind of a sketchy business the government has going there if you ask me. But still, what a cool catch.

Check out www.americanfishfinder.com for your fishing reports and other news for your fishing adventures.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from Greenhead wrote 2 years 21 weeks ago

Mike, I agree with your common sense approach, but am afraid that if they changed the rules, a lot of guys would start "accidentally" catching a whole lot more tuna.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from ableskeever wrote 2 years 21 weeks ago

What needs to be learned is that, yes, the regulations need to be followed, AND they could very likely use a tune-up to add some clarity. The method is very important. My dad (a judge) was presiding over a case where a man was caught spearfishing for trout. A fisherman himself, my dad asked the game warden if using a spear made as much a difference. The warden told him that this method could decimate the trout population. Those rules are in place for a reason.

If this guy was purchasing the permits, he probably should have read the regulations regarding them. Lucky for him he got off with a warning.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Blue Ox wrote 2 years 21 weeks ago

I think the feds have better things to do than waste my money by busting this guy's chops.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Beekeeper wrote 2 years 21 weeks ago

I'd bet that tuna of that stature don't show up in ground fishing gear very often. I agree with Mike Diehl that by-catch should be used in a constructive way and not tossed over the side for the sharks to feed on, a mature dead fish is a mature dead fish. They don't reanimate when tossed over the side! If you don't want by-catch then stop allowing nets to be used in general.
You can be assured that the Chinese don't follow the same rules in their waters as we do!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from ableskeever wrote 2 years 20 weeks ago

Wouldn't be too hard to set up a donation for the meat to go to charity for the accidentally netted tuna. No harm, no foul.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Greenhead wrote 2 years 21 weeks ago

Its a cruddy result, but that is the way it needs to be. If that wasn't the case, bluefin would be over fished even more than they already are.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike Diehl wrote 2 years 21 weeks ago

New Bedford and Provincetown are in Massachusetts, not Connecticut.

The basic problem is intent. They don't want people to net tuna, obviously, because the species are sort of rare. And also obviously, this guy was not TRYING to net a Tuna. No doubt the tuna was opportunistically foraging from the fisherman's catch.

Them's the rules. But they should be changed. Basically the tuna was a "bycatch." The rules should encourage fishermen to make good use of bycatch, not penalize them for it.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Steward wrote 2 years 21 weeks ago

You do have to obey the rules. I can't suggest a better solution, but the result in this situation is bad: "Next time I catch [a tuna] I’m going to throw it over the side." So that will be a fish wasted, which is ridiculous, if it cannot survive.

It does sound like the permit process was a bit lacking, that he could get the permits and not know that they would be worthless. What did the permits cost?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jakenbake wrote 2 years 21 weeks ago

Greenhead's right. The more acceptable "bycatch" of valuable species is, the more "bycatch" there will be. Can't have that when we're mismanaging the species towards complete extirpation.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from 784512 wrote 2 years 21 weeks ago

There's a better picture of the actual tuna on the Yahoo webpage: http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/man-catches-881-pound-tuna-seized-f.... Amazingly big!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from badsmerf wrote 2 years 21 weeks ago

Thats too bad.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from gijustin wrote 2 years 21 weeks ago

No sympathy here. If I killed a deer with an illegal method, I would be lucky not to face jail time. Every year I get a copy of the regulations. They are posted for free on the TPWD website and given out for free anywhere licenses are sold in the State of Texas. There is no reason why anyone should illegally take any game animal.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Steward wrote 2 years 21 weeks ago

I agree with you, "gijustin," about the regs; however, our livelihood does not involve catching "game animals" with a large net. We don't have worry about a game animal, for which we do not have a tag, wandering into the point of our arrow.

Is the tuna alive or dead when it is pulled onto the boat? If it is alive, then dump it over the side of the boat and move on. If it is dead...what a waste, because it sounds like it is still going to be going over the side.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jmshackelfo@aol.com wrote 2 years 20 weeks ago

I wounder why they didn't tell him when he got the permet that it was for rod and real and not neting tuna. It is very cool that the captin told everyone and did the right thing. Thats a lot of money for him to give up. Probobly why he got a warning.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from AmericanFishFinder wrote 2 years 20 weeks ago

Seems strange the government would sell it. Why do they deserve the sell? I say let Carlos sell it, but than give him a fine for catching it and a warning to not catch it like that again. Or donate the tuna. Kind of a sketchy business the government has going there if you ask me. But still, what a cool catch.

Check out www.americanfishfinder.com for your fishing reports and other news for your fishing adventures.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

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