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.