Ontario-based trading company fined $60,000 for illegally importing fins of threatened shark species
September 1, 2021 – Newmarket, Ontario – Environment and Climate Change Canada
On August 31, 2021, S L Dried Seafood Co. Ltd. and Wang Cheung, store manager, were sentenced to pay fines of $60,000 and $5,000 respectively after pleading guilty in the Newmarket Ontario Court of Justice to unlawfully importing protected shark species without a permit from the country of export. Importing species listed in Appendices of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) without a permit is a contravention of subsection 6(2) of the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act (WAPPRIITA). The fine will be directed to the Government of Canada’s Environmental Damages Fund and used to support projects that benefit the natural environment.
In addition to the fine, Cheung and the company face two prohibitions under a Prohibition Order issued by the Court. For one year, Cheung and S L Dried Seafood Co. Ltd. are prohibited from importing or exporting any CITES-listed species and they are prohibited from applying for any new permit under WAPPRIITA. The court also ordered the company to forfeit the 29 illegally imported shark fins and approximately 325 kilograms of shark fin cartilage fragments.
The charges stem from events in May 2018, when ECCC Wildlife Enforcement Officers inspected an incoming shipment of shark products at the Canada Border Services Agency Container Examination Facility in Burnaby, British Columbia. The shipment was destined for the Ontario-based company S L Dried Seafood Co. Ltd. During the inspection, Wildlife Officers identified a box of 29 shark fins and 13 bags of assorted shark fin cartilage fragments. Subsequent DNA testing identified a number of different shark species, including fins or fin cartilage from two different CITES-listed shark species: silky shark and scalloped hammerhead shark.
Approximately 400 species of sharks are found in the world and they help maintain balance in marine ecosystems. In 2003, sharks began to be listed in the CITES Appendices. This is largely due to unsustainable fishing efforts coupled with the high demand of the international fin trade. In 2019, the Fisheries Act was amended to prohibit the import of non-attached shark fins from any species.
- CITES is an international agreement that Canada joined in 1975 to regulate or, in some cases, to prohibit trade of specific species of wild animals and plants as well as their respective parts and derivatives.
- WAPPRIITA is the legislation that ECCC 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.
- Appendix II species have been listed, as 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 provided the appropriate permits are obtained. Specimens to be imported into Canada must be accompanied by a CITES export permit (or re-export certificate) issued by the exporting country.
- Created in 1995, the Environmental Damages Fund is a Government of Canada program administered by ECCC. The Fund receives and redirects the money from court penalties and settlements to support projects that repair environmental damage or benefit the environment.
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