Nautical News: For the week of October 1, 2017



In Boston, U.S. District Court Judge William Young sentenced fisherman Carlos “Codfather” Rafael to 46 months in jail for his admitted crimes in a fish quota and tax evasion scheme out of his New Bedford based business. The judge also ordered Carlos to pay a $200,000 fine and banned him forever from having anything to do with the commercial fishing business. Carlos Seafood. Rafael is scheduled to begin serving his prison sentence on November 6th. His legal team has requested that Rafael serve his prison sentence at Fort Devens. There has so far no decision made on forfeiture of permits, boats, and real estate. According to New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell, the best case scenario for the region would be for Rafael to sell his entire fleet to a buyer. Such a deal is currently in the works with the owners of a seafood auction house called the Buyers and Sellers Exchange in New Bedford. In a letter to the judge, Rafael claimed he committed his crimes to help support his employees. He wrote they shouldn’t be affected by his actions. “Those people don’t deserve that.”




Remember Cape Wind and their wind turbine project proposed for Horseshoe Shoals off Martha’s Vineyard? Everyone thought it was dead, even though its president, Jim Gordon, said it wasn’t. It now appears Mr. Gordon was right. Federal officials just released a Record of Decision affirming the federal government’s issuance of a lease to Cape Wind. The decision to affirm Cape Wind’s lease to 46 square miles of Nantucket Sound ignores all requests from the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, the Cape and Islands legislative delegation, the Steamship Authority, the Barnstable Municipal Airport, and hundreds of associations, businesses, political leaders, and residents that the lease be terminated. The federal lease issued in 2010, gives Cape Wind the right to build 130 wind turbines in Nantucket Sound, or sell the lease to another developer right up to the year 2042.




The renewal of the Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act has now been discussed at six hearings held in the House and the Senate over the past nine months. It was originally implemented in 1976 and its most recent extension is due to expire this month. The “act” was created to manage the fish stocks so that the stocks remain sustainable without causing economic harm the fishermen. The results of the government’s management have been disastrous to the commercial fishermen. Unbelievably, some in Congress want to extend this failed act to include recreational fishermen which has led to a new “act” called the “Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Acts.” According to the latest statistics released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Magnuson-Stevens Act has not worked for recreational anglers. During the past 5 years, the number of recreational saltwater fishermen decreased by 6 percent. This has occurred when Gulf of Mexico red snapper increased by 183 percent, Atlantic black sea bass biomass increased 9.3 million pounds to almost 50 million pounds, Gulf of Maine haddock biomass increased from 18 million pounds to 104 million pounds, and scup increased from 309 million pounds to 447 million pounds. The Recreational Fishermen’s Alliance points out that during this same period, with more fish and lower gas and diesel prices, recreational saltwater fishing participation declined.




Today, on the second anniversary of the sinking of the El Faro 800 foot cargo ship that claimed the lives of its 33 crew, the Coast Guard is releasing its final report on its investigation of why the ship sank. The ship sank 36 nautical miles east of the Bahamas. Among the crew aboard the El Faro were two graduates of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy: Keith Griffin, who graduated in 2005, and Jeffrey A. Mathias, who graduated in 1996. The Coast Guard report will identify the factors that led to the loss of this ship and its crew, and will also propose safety recommendations to prevent similar sinkings in the future.




The Coast Guard rescued two lobstermen in Maine after their boat became disabled and drifted on to rocks. The two lobstermen were forced to abandon ship and swam to a nearby island. Fortunately, they had told a neighbor about their fishing trip, and the neighbor called the Coast Guard when the two failed to return home. He also reported that the two only spoke French. The Coast Guard sent a crew on a boat from Jonesport, Maine and a helicopter crew from Air Station Cape Cod to search. During the search, the boat crew saw a red flare and went to investigate. They then found a partially submerged lobster boat. The two lobstermen were standing nearby waving their arms, whistling, and lit a hand held flare. However, the Coast Guard boat could not get the men due to the rocky shallow water, so they called the helicopter crew. The helicopter landed on the island and rescued the two lobstermen. Medical personnel evaluated the two and then sent them home.




Hundreds of spectators and scores of boats are expected again this year for the 31st annual “Head of the Weir” rowing race on October 21st. Sponsored by the Hull Lifesaving Museum, the contest will draw as many as 60 rowing craft of all kinds. Last year more than 300 rowers from across New England and New York participated in the 5-1/2-mile race. The race course starts at the head of the Weir River where Hingham, Hull, and Cohasset meet, and then goes into open water, past Bumpkin Island and across Hull Bay to the finish line at the museum’s boathouse at Hull Gut. The best vantage points for spectators will be at the George Washington Boulevard Bridge by the Hingham courthouse and the finish line. Registration for the race is now open, with a $35 per person fee. For more information, email the Lifesaving Museum at




A rare weather phenomenon occurred in the northeast Mexican coastal city Tampico. Tiny silver fish weighing a few grams fell from the sky with a light rain according to civil defense officials. The rare meteorological phenomenon is believed to occur after waterspouts suck fish into the air and carry them to land. This past month, Mexico has had tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, eclipses, earthquakes, now fish falling from the sky. In ancient times, there have been stories of toads and frogs coming down with the rain, and In May of this year, a city in northern California experienced rain with dozens of carp.




And last on today’s nautical news, David T. Henneberry, of Watertown, the man who discovered Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev inside his 24 foot boat just passed away. Henneberry was hailed as a hero when he notified authorities that he found Tsarnaev hiding inside his winter covered boat. When police arrived, they shot many bullets into the boat, destroying it. They then took the boat away for evidence. Ironically, the boat was named Slipaway II. He always claimed he was no hero. He said he would do it all over again even if it meant losing his boat Slipaway II.

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