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New Bedford fisherman catch -- but can’t keep -- 882-pound tuna

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.

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“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.

Amanda Cedrone can be reached at acedrone@globe.com.
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