October 16, 2018

Warren Urges Dept. of Commerce, NOAA to Ensure Carlos Rafael Fishing Permits Remain in New Bedford

Fishing Permits Critical Component of New Bedford, South Coast Economy

Text of the Letter (PDF)

Washington, DC - United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) today sent a letter to the Department of Commerce and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to request that they do everything in their power to ensure that the 42 federal fishing permits held by disgraced fishing magnate Carlos Rafael remain in the Port of New Bedford.  The federal permits, which cover a significant portion of the ground fish industry and have an economic footprint that goes far beyond fish landings, are currently at risk of being revoked and distributed elsewhere under a civil administrative case brought by NOAA against Mr. Rafael.

Last year, Carlos Rafael, a New Bedford fishing magnate, pled guilty to 28 federal charges related to the management of his company, including falsifying fish quotas, mislabeling fish, conspiracy, and tax evasion. In a civil case filed in January 2018, NOAA called for the revocation of 42 federal fishing permits held by Mr. Rafael.  

In her letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Acting NOAA Administrator Benjamin Friedman, and Chris Oliver, Assistant Administrator for Fisheries at NOAA, Senator Warren expressed serious concern about the devastating impact that removing the permits-which support many unaffiliated businesses and jobs that were not part of Mr. Rafael's operation-from New Bedford would have on the regional economy.  

"Millions of dollars of regional economic activity depend on Mr. Rafael's permits remaining in the City of New Bedford," wrote Senator Warren.  "An innocent community should not be collateral damage for one business's crimes."

The senator's letter also emphasized the importance of the groundfish industry to the Massachusetts economy as a whole and noted that New Bedford already has the experienced workforce, infrastructure, and proud tradition to best utilize and maximize the economic benefits of the groundfish industry.

"It is critical for the city and South Coast region that these permits and allocations remain in the port of New Bedford, and in the hands of law-abiding fishing families and businesses," Senator Warren continued. "Removing these permits from New Bedford would do lasting damage to families and businesses that have already suffered greatly through no fault of their own."

The senator requested that the agencies take any and all available actions within their discretion to ensure that these critical fishing permits remain in New Bedford.