Dude Catches 881-Pound Tuna, and the Feds Stole it From Him

This Nov. 12, 2011 photo released by NOAA and provided by Stephanie Rafael shows fishing boat owner Carlos Rafael in New Bedford, Mass., with an 881-pound tuna. The fish was snared as Rafael's crew set a net to catch bottom-dwelling fish. Federal fishery enforcement agents seized the fish when the crew returned to port. Rafael had tuna permits, but was told catching tuna with a net is illegal. They must instead be caught with rod and reel. (AP Photo/NOAA)

New Bedford, Mass. • It’s the big one that got taken away.

Local fishing boat owner Carlos Rafael was elated when one of his trawlers snared an 881-pound bluefin tuna earlier this month.

But the joy was short-lived. Federal fishery enforcement agents seized the fish when the crew returned to port Nov. 12.

Rafael had tuna permits but was told catching tuna with a net is illegal.

Instead, it’s got to be caught by handgear, such as rod and reel, harpoon or handline.

“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.”

A fish that big is hugely valuable, prized by sushi-lovers for its tender red meat. A 754­-pound tuna recently sold for nearly $396,000.

Rafael’s fish will be sold overseas, and he’ll get no share of the proceeds if regulators find a violation, The Standard-Times reported. The money would instead go into the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration fund that also holds money collected for fishery fines.

Rafael said he thinks he’s going to surrender his tuna permits now.

“What good are they if I can’t catch them?” he said.

The tuna was likely inadvertently snagged as Rafael’s crew set a net to catch bottom-dwellers, he said.

The freakin’ Feds, man. My Kooks of the Week. How mad must this guy be? I’d be furious. I bet Jesus is furious too. You think the disciples fished with a rod and reel? Hell no. They fished with nets. (see what I did there? ‘hell’ no? hysterical.)

Seriously though…this tuna would’ve sold for over $400,000. FOUR HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS! “Guess what, Carlos Rafael, you just won the lottery!!! Just kidding, we’re taking your lottery ticket because you bought it with coins instead of dollar bills or credit card. Have a good life.”

-bp

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