One by one, fishing vessels once owned by Carlos Rafael -- the New Bedford "Codfather" who did prison time for fisheries fraud -- are being relaunched under new colors.

Blue Harvest Fisheries this week launched the Carrabassett, the second of three refitted groundfish vessels the company is putting into service this year. The 78-foot trawler was once painted "Carlos Rafael green" and emblazoned with the "CR" logo. Now it's refurbished, repaired, upgraded, painted deep blue, and decorated with Blue Harvest's distinctive scallop logo.

The Schelvis, an 85-foot trawler once known as the Glaucus, is scheduled to launch this fall. The Allagash, an 83-foot trawler formerly known as the Southern Crusader II, entered Blue Harvest's fleet in July after getting some serious work done. Earlier this year, the vessel could be plainly seen from the Union Street Wharf at the Fairhaven Shipyard.

In addition to being renamed and repainted in Blue Harvest colors, all three vessels are outfitted with new fishing gear and updated electronics. The Allagash and Carrabassett have had their decks reconfigured so catch can be quickly sorted, cleaned and stored. The Schelvis is undergoing greater changes that will allow catch to be stored in superchilled water tanks, Blue Harvest said in a media release.

Mary Serreze/Townsquare Media

Blue Harvest purchased 12 vessels and 27 fishing permits from Rafael's family in February. Rafael, who made millions by gaming the system before he was busted by federal agents, was ordered last year by a judge to get out of the fishing business forever and divest his holdings.

"We promised when we acquired these vessels that we would be keeping them in New Bedford, and that we would be investing in this city's historic fishing industry. Those weren't just words to us," said Blue Harvest CEO and president Keith Decker. "We're proud of the improvements we've made to these vessels, which will provide good jobs here in New Bedford, and high-quality seafood around the country."

Decker said the move "demonstrates Blue Harvest's continued commitment to New Bedford's rich fishing culture, and our investment in the city's waterfront community."

Blue Harvest Fisheries

The company says Blue Harvest targets healthy and underfished stocks including haddock, ocean perch, and Atlantic pollock, and that the refurbished vessels will help them meet demand for underutilized and sustainable species. Now the Carrabassett, the Allagash, and the Schelvis will join the Blue Canyon, Morue, Harmony, Nobska, Teresa Marie III, and Teresa Marie IV in Blue Harvest's fleet of groundfish vessels.

Blue Harvest Fisheries bills itself as a leading supplier of premium quality and sustainably-harvested seafood. In addition to its nine groundfish vessels, it has 15 scallop boats. Blue Harvest owns offload facilities in Newport News, Virginia and in Fairhaven, and runs a waterfront manufacturing facility in New Bedford. The company's products are sold fresh and frozen to restaurants, wholesalers and distributors. The company offers custom processing and supplies private-label products to retailers and foodservice distributors.

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