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

January 4, 2023 – Brampton, Ontario – Environment and Climate Change Canada

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the company completed all measures outlined in the alternative measures agreement, the charge against the company was withdrawn.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.

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