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Sunken boats owned by 'Codfather' now back on surface

(WJAR)

Two sunken fishing boats owned by the imprisoned "Codfather" have now been pulled back up to the surface in New Bedford.

Crews got the Dinah Jane afloat Monday, while the Nemesis was pulled up during the weekend.

The two scallop boats sank a week earlier as they were tied up together at Homer's Wharf.

The salvage was made a little tricky because the boats got a little tangled up as they went down.

"It seems like it worked out pretty well, in terms of the salvage operation," said Edward Anthes-Washburn, who is the executive director of the New Bedford Harbor Development Commission.

The Coast Guard is trying to determine why the boats sank, noting that not much fuel leaked into the water during the mishap.

Both boats are owned by Carlos Rafael, now infamously known as the "Codfather" after he was sent to prison in 2017 for falsifying fish catch records to evade quotas and smuggling cash to Portugal.

The two scallop boats that sank were working recently, but much of Rafael's big fleet is not.

The government shut down more than a dozen of his groundfish boats as part of the punishment.

"You can't understate the impact of shutting down an entire fishing sector," Anthes-Washburn said.

The New York Times recently ran an article about the impact, which is hurting the New Bedford fishing industry.

"It's devastating to the industry," Rich Canastra of Whaling City Seafood Display Auction told NBC 10 News.

"A lot less fish," he said.

Canastra estimates 300 people, fishermen, and shore support, are now out of work as a result of the Rafael boats being tied up at the docks.

"He was good for business. He kept the New Bedford economy going," Canastra said. "I believe everyone is being punished."

Anthes-Washburn shared similar sentiments.

"I think our biggest concern has always been the impact on folks that weren't part of the issues that Carlos pled guilty to," he said.

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