Jeez! A Massachusetts fisherman, named Carlos Rafael, finally caught the big one recently … but only to have it seized by the Feds.
One of Rafael’s fishing boats snagged an 881-pound bluefin tuna earlier this month. While elated over the catch, it was short-lived, because when they docked the Feds seized the fish when the crew returned to port.
According to the Associated Press, Rafael had tuna permits but was told catching tuna with a net is illegal. Instead, you have to catch it with rod and reel, harpoon or handline.
A fish that big is valuable, prized by sushi-lovers for its tender red meat. A 754-pound tuna recently sold for nearly $396,000.
Rafael is angry, because he thought he had all the necessary paperwork and has been dreaming of a big catch like this.
“We didn’t try to hide anything,” Rafael told The Standard-Times newspaper of New Bedford, a famous whaling era port 50 miles south of Boston. “We did everything by the book. Nobody ever told me we couldn’t catch it with a net.”
Now, he says he’s going to surrender his tuna permits now, because “What good are they if I can’t catch them?”
The NOAA says that bluefin tuna can’t be caught legally in trawl nets, even by accident. The fish is reproducing off the coast are below 30% of their population level in the 1970s; and the rules are aimed at building back their numbers because they are slow to grow and reproduce.
Rafael won’t see any of that money he could’ve made from the fish.