This week, as the Carlos Rafael saga unfolded in New Bedford and in federal court in Worcester, the U.S. Coast Guard issued a release asking anyone with information on illegal fishing activity to report it to a confidential hotline.

Coincidence? Hardly.

A Coast Guard spokeswoman said the hotline has been used in the past, but the Coast Guard is publicizing it more extensively now and one of the reasons is the Rafael case. The New Bedford fishing mogul is facing federal charges of conducting illegal fishing operations, conspiracy and falsifying fish-reporting documents.

"Is it partly because of the case? Definitely," Lt. Karen Kutkiewicz said Friday.

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