Vancouver company fined $60,000 for illegal import of fins from threatened shark species

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A Vancouver company was sentenced to pay a $60,000 fine after pleading guilty in B.C. court to unlawfully importing fins from threatened shark species.

Kiu Yick Trading Co. Ltd. imported 13 boxes of silky shark fins, weighing about 434 kg. Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) estimated the boxes could represent up to 3,185 individual sharks and this is believed to be the largest forfeiture of shark fins in Canada to date.

An investigation found Kiu Yick Trading had imported thousands of fins from silky sharks, which are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), from Hong Kong in Feb. 2018

CITES is an international agreement Canada joined in 1975 to regulate, and in some cases prohibit, trade of specific species.

The company declared the shipment as blue shark fins, which could at the time be legally imported without a CITES permit, according to ECCC. Officers inspected the shipment and detained nearly half of the boxes for DNA testing to confirm the species. More than 65 per cent of the fins sampled turned out to be CITES-protected species.

The legally imported fins were returned to the importer while 13 boxes of silky shark fins were detained for investigation. 

“The fine will be directed to the Government of Canada’s environmental damages fund and used to support projects that benefit our natural environment,” reads a press release from ECCC. It said the illegal imports were forfeited to the crown.

In 2019, the Canadian Fisheries Act was amended to prohibit the import of non-attached shark fins.

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