B.C.-based company fined $75,000 and ordered to forfeit 20,196 shark fins

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A B.C.-based company has been sentenced to pay a $75,000 fine for unlawfully importing a protected shark species without a permit.

Hang Hing Herbal Medicine Ltd. pled guilty in provincial court on Jan. 17 and was also forced to forfeit a shipment of 20,196 fins weighing about 550 kg, according to a media release from Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC).

In September 2017, the Canada Border Services Agency discovered a shipment, declared as fish bone, actually contained shark fins. DNA testing determined fins came from oceanic white tip sharks and silky sharks. Since the latter was not added to the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) list until a month later, the company was only charged for the ocean white tip shark fins, according to ECCC.

The fine will be directed to the federal government’s Environmental Damages Fund to support projects that benefit the environment.

As a result of this conviction, the company’s name will be added to the Environmental Offenders Registry. The registry contains information on convictions of corporations registered for offences committed under certain federal environmental laws.

Importing a CITES-listed species without a permit obtained from the country of export is a contravention of subsection 6(2) of the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act (WAPPRIITA).

About 400 species of sharks are found in the world. Many shark populations are threatened, largely due to unsustainable fishing practices and the high demand of the international fin trade. Sharks were first included in Appendix II of CITES in 2003 and today 12 species are listed. In 2019, Canada’s Fisheries Act was amended to prohibit the import of non-attached fins from any shark species.

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