It wasn’t the one that got away. It was the one that was taken away.
Earlier this month the crew of the Apollo accidentally snagged a gigantic 881-pound tuna in their trawling gear as they were setting out their nets. Apollo owner Carlos Rafael told the Cape Cod Times that the catch was actually a fluke. “They [the crew] probably got it in the midwater when they were setting out and it just got corralled in the net. That only happens once in a blue moon.” Fortunately Rafael had purchased several tuna permits for just such an occurrence. As required by the permit, Rafael immediately called the bluefin tuna hot line to report the catch.
Shortly after, the Apollo ran into bad weather and docked in Provincetown Harbor for protection. Knowing that time was of the essence, Rafael got in his truck and made his way to the dock to pick up the prized catch. “I wanted to sell the fish while it was fresh instead of letting it age on the boat,” he said. “It was a beautiful fish.” Rafael was met at the dock by Agents from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Law Enforcement who quickly informed him that they were confiscating his fish because bluefin can’t legally be caught in a net. “They said it had to be caught with rod and reel,” Rafael said. “We didn’t try to hide anything. We did everything by the book. Nobody ever told me we couldn’t catch it with a net.”
According to NOAA public affairs specialist Christine Patrick, no charges have been filed against Rafael at this time but she suspects he will receive a written warning at the minimum. She also said that the fish would be sold on consignment and the proceeds placed in an account until the matter is resolved. Rafael is waiting until then to voice his disappointment in the law. “I think I’m going to surrender all my tuna permits now. What good are they if I can’t catch them?”
So how much did Rafael actual forfeit? He won’t know for sure until the fish is sold. But considering a 754-pound bluefin sold for almost $396,000 at a Tokyo auction in January, it’s probably a lot.
What do you think Outdoor Life readers? Is Rafael getting the shaft? Comment below.