Richmond Seafood Trading Company Fined $77,500 for Illegal Possession of Endangered Northern Abalone and for Obstruction
NG Fung Enterprises (1999) Ltd, is a wholesale/retail food supply company that also operates a retail outlet. Mr. Kwok, on behalf of the company, pled guilty to three counts for the illegal possession of endangered Northern abalone contrary to SARA and to one count of obstruction of a Fishery Officer contrary to the Fisheries Act.
During three separate visits occurring December 2013 to June 2014, fishery officers conducted general compliance inspections at the NG Fung facilities in Richmond, BC. A significant quantity of abalone was discovered in the retail store, warehouse, and in a concealed storeroom. Subsequent DNA testing by DFO’s Molecular Genetics Lab at the Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo confirmed the presence of endangered Northern abalone from all three interactions with NG Fung.
Due to serious conservation concerns documented by scientists and fishery managers, all abalone fisheries were closed in British Columbia in 1990. In 2003, Northern abalone were listed and protected as Threatened under SARA, which aims to prevent endangered and threatened wildlife from becoming extinct, and to help in their recovery. The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) re-assessed the Northern abalone status in 2009, designating the species as Endangered because there had been little or no recovery of the wild abalone population, particularly the larger reproductive animals. The species was up-listed to Endangered under SARA in 2011.
Despite continued efforts to rebuild abalone populations and prosecute individuals involved in illegal harvest and trade, Northern abalone show little sign of recovery. The greatest threat to the survival of this species continues to be illegal harvest, which is in turn driven by the illegal trade.
- Fisheries and Oceans Canada collaborates with INTERPOL, the world's largest international police organization, to investigate worldwide illegal abalone trade.
- The Species at Risk Act prohibits the killing, harming, harassing, capture, take, collection, purchase, sale or trade of an endangered or threatened wildlife species
- The Fisheries Act requires that the owner or person in charge of a place inspected by a fishery officer must provide all reasonable assistance.
- Those involved in commercial trade have a duty to inform and educate themselves on what is or is not legal.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada is committed to the protection of Canada’s Northern abalone, and to the recovery of this species. Fisheries and Oceans Canada has a mandate to protect and conserve marine resources and to prosecute offenders under SARA and the Fisheries Act. It ensures and promotes compliance with laws and regulations through a combination of land, air, and sea patrols, as well as education and awareness activities. As part of Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s work to end illegal activity, the Department asks the public for information on activities of this nature or any contravention of SARA, or the Fisheries Act and its Regulations. Anyone with information can call the toll-free violation reporting line at 1-800-465-4336.