As much as 90,000 kilogram Illegal eel meat worth more than $4.3 million has been seized in Markham, Ontario. On October 3, Nationalwide Star Canada Corp. and Zhou Hong Xia, both of Markham, were fined $175,000 and $75,000 respectively by the Ontario Court of Justice in Toronto for the offence.
Sign up for news alerts from North Shore Daily Post.
The company and the individual pleaded guilty to one charge each for violating the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act (WAPPRIITA). These violations relate to the illegal importation of European Eel meat. The $250,000 in total fines will be directed to the Government of Canada’s Environmental Damages Fund.
Between November 2016 and January 2018, shipping containers declared as American Eel fillets were imported into Canada. However, Environment and Climate Change Canada enforcement officers discovered, through sampling and DNA analysis, European Eel meat mixed with the legally imported American Eel meat in all five containers.
The illegally imported eel was discovered during inspections which were part of Operation Vitrum, a multi-year, ongoing Environment and Climate Change Canada-led effort to stop illegal trade in endangered eels. This case is the fourth successful prosecution that stemmed from this national operation.
European Eel is an Endangered Species and it must be accompanied by a permit to be lawfully imported into Canada. Zhou Hong Xia was charged with one count of importing five shipping containers containing CITES-listed species without a permit. The company was also charged with one count of importing one of the five shipping containers containing CITES-listed species without a permit.
Call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) to anonymously report wildlife crime, and be eligible for a reward of up to $2,000 from Crime Stoppers.