B.C. company ordered to pay $50K in penalties for illegally importing products containing a protected orchid species

News release

March 11, 2019 – Vancouver, British Columbia

Environmental crime is a serious and growing international problem. The illegal exploitation of the world’s wild flora and fauna is not tolerated in Canada. Environment and Climate Change Canada’s enforcement officers strive to ensure that businesses and individuals comply with federal environmental laws and regulations that protect Canada’s natural environment.

On March 4, 2019, after entering a guilty plea, Topwin Trading Co Ltd. was ordered to pay a total of $50,000 in penalties after pleading guilty to violating the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act (WAPPRIITA). Of the total fine, $45,000 will be directed towards the Government of Canada’s Environmental Damages Fund and $5,000 will be paid as a fine. In addition, the court ordered that the 51 cases of seized product be forfeited.

On March 30, 2016, the Canada Border Services Agency notified Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Enforcement Branch that Topwin Trading would be receiving a shipment of Deida Wanhua Herbal Oil in Vancouver. A shipping invoice indicated that the herbal oil contained plant material derived from the Bletilla striata, a species native to East Asia that is also known as the hyacinth orchid or Chinese ground orchid. Environment and Climate Change Canada enforcement officers inspected and detained 51 boxes containing 10,200 vials of the herbal oil.

All orchid species are listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). A permit is required to import Bletilla striata into Canada.

This is not the first conviction for Topwin Trading under the WAPPRIITA. In 2010, Topwin Trading pleaded guilty to illegally importing one carton of the plant species Nardostachys grandiflora (Spikenard), which is commonly used in dried form as a medicinal herb.

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Quick facts

  • Environment and Climate Change Canada is the lead agency responsible for implementing CITES. The Convention sets controls, through an international permit system, on the international trade and movement of more than 33,000 animal and plant species that are endangered, or have or may be threatened, due to excessive commercial exploitation.

  • More than 180 countries, including Canada, have signed the CITES agreement and are working together to protect the world’s most threatened species.

  • The WAPPRIITA is the legislation that applies to the import and export of endangered species and it implements CITES in Canada.

  • The Environmental Damages Fund is administered by Environment and Climate Change Canada. It was created in 1995 to provide a mechanism for directing funds received as a result of fines, court orders, and voluntary payments to priority projects that will benefit our natural environment.

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