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Legal Case Study: BC Company Fined for Offences Under the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act Penalties of $45,000 stem from September 2010 shipment

Tony Crossman, Vancouver
Daniel L. Kiselbach, Vancouver
Amanda Baron, Articled Student, Vancouver

On September 11th, 2012, J & A Health Food International Ltd., based in Richmond, BC, received penalties totalling $45,000 after pleading guilty to three offences under the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act (WAPPRIITA). 

The charges stem from January 28, 2010, when Environment Canada officers searched a shipment of permitted ginseng roots and found several bags of wild American ginseng roots and several bags of orchids (Dendrobium spp) hidden within the shipment.  Both the wild American ginseng roots and the species of orchids discovered were of high value, and had not been declared to the Canada Border Services Agency.  Additionally, both species are identified in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

CITES is an international agreement between governments which aims to ensure that international trade in wild plants and animals does not threaten their survival.  CITES has 176 member states globally, and accords varying degrees of protection to more than 30,000 plant and animal species.  CITES was implemented in Canada by the enactment of WAPPRIITA.

J & A Health Food International Ltd. was charged under ss. 6(2) of WAPPRIITA, which states:

6. (2) Subject to the regulations, no person shall, except under and in accordance with a permit issued pursuant to subsection 10(1), import into Canada or export from Canada any animal or plant, or any part or derivative of an animal or plant.

Of the $45,000 of penalties imposed, $2,500 was imposed as a fine for each of the three offences under ss. 6(2), $7,500 was directed to the Environmental Damages Fund, and an award of $30,000 was directed to TRAFFIC, a global organization that monitors trade in wild plants and animals and aims to keep such trade at sustainable levels.  TRAFFIC also works in close cooperation with the Secretariat of CITES.  In addition to the monetary penalties, the sentence imposed included the forfeiture of 19kg of ginseng (both wild and cultivated) and 5kg of orchids.

To learn more, visit the following websites:

CITES in Canada: http://www.ec.gc.ca/cites/

Environmental Damages Fund: http://www.ec.gc.ca/edf-fde/

TRAFFIC: http://www.traffic.org/