Ontario-based company contributes $30,000 to the Environmental Damages Fund for importing protected European eel meat

News release

January 4, 2023 – Brampton, Ontario

The Government of Canada is committed to protecting Canadian and foreign species of wild animals and plants that may be at risk of overexploitation due to unsustainable or illegal trade.

On December 23, 2022, Ocean Seafood Company met the conditions of an alternative measures agreement, which was reached after the company was charged with an offence under the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act (WAPPRIITA).

As part of the agreement, the company has made a contribution of $30,000 to the Government of Canada’s Environmental Damages Fund. Ocean Seafood Company also forfeited the imported eel meat to the Crown to remove the illegally imported product from the commercial market. In addition, the company was required to implement a training program for employees, focusing on compliance with WAPPRIITA. As the company completed all measures outlined in the alternative measures agreement, the charge against the company was withdrawn.

On April 17, 2019, Environment and Climate Change Canada wildlife enforcement officers inspected and sampled one shipment of 1,450 boxes of eel meat imported by Ocean Seafood Company, which had been declared as American eel meat. Through extensive sampling and DNA analysis, the officers determined that European eel meat was mixed with the American eel meat.

European eel is listed in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Under section 6(2) of WAPPRIITA, importers may not import a CITES-protected species unless they secure a permit from the country of export.

The American eel closely resembles the European eel, and meat from the two species can only be distinguished by using DNA analysis. American eel may be legally imported into Canada without a CITES permit, but shipments identified as American eel have often been found to contain European eel.

Environment and Climate Change Canada has created a free subscription service to help Canadians stay current with what the Government of Canada is doing to protect our natural environment.

Quick facts

  • The inspection was part of Operation Vitrum, a multi-year ongoing Environment and Climate Change Canada-led effort to stop illegal trade in endangered eels.

  • Canada has been a signatory of CITES since 1975. As a party to the agreement, Canada adopted domestic legislation to regulate or, in some cases, prohibit trade of specific species of wild animals and plants, as well as their respective parts and derivatives.

  • Species are CITES Appendix II listed when there is a risk that they may be threatened with extinction unless trade is regulated. Importing and exporting species listed on Appendix II is allowed, if the appropriate permits are obtained. Specimens imported into Canada must be accompanied by a CITES export permit (or re-export certificate) issued by the exporting country. The permit is part of the system of strict trade controls that help ensure that any trade in these species is legal, sustainable, and traceable.

  • WAPPRIITA is the enabling legislation that Environment and Climate Change Canada uses to implement CITES in Canada. The Act aims to protect Canadian and foreign species of animals and plants at risk of exploitation from illegal trade.

  • Alternative measures may be used to divert an accused person or company away from court proceedings after a charge has been laid. An alternative measures agreement, negotiated with the accused, includes measures that the accused must take, which are consistent with the purposes of the applicable legislation. Once the accused implements these measures, the charge is withdrawn, or may be dismissed by the court.

  • Created in 1995, the Environmental Damages Fund is a Government of Canada program administered by Environment and Climate Change Canada. The Fund ensures that fines, monetary penalties and voluntary payments support projects that will benefit the environment.

Associated links


Media Relations
Environment and Climate Change Canada
819-938-3338 or 1-844-836-7799 (toll-free)

Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Twitter page

Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Facebook page

Page details

Date modified: