Turning turtle: seafood supplier pleads guilty to illegal importation of protected turtles

Environment Canada reports that Mr. Jie Hua Shen, of Toronto, Ontario, owner of Marine Seafood Inc., was ordered to pay $25,000 in the Ontario Court of Justice, after pleading guilty on March 24, 2016, to the illegal importation of Florida Softshell Turtles that were transported into Canada in contravention of a foreign state’s law, an offence under the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act (WAPPRIITA).

There are over 350 species of turtles and tortoises in the wild. Of this number, trade in 140 species of turtles and 44 species of tortoises are regulated by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

CITES is an international agreement that Canada acceded to on July 3, 1975, to regulate, or in some cases to prohibit, trade in specific species of wild animals and plants, as well as their respective parts and derivatives. WAPPRIITA is the legislation used to implement CITES.

In December 2013, Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Enforcement Branch, together with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service’s Office of Law Enforcement, commenced a joint-forces operation focusing on the trade in Florida Softshell Turtles. The operation resulted in the seizure of 40 live Florida Softshell Turtles, which were illegally smuggled from the United States into Canada by Mr. Shen, through his company Marine Seafood Inc.

Florida Softshell Turtles are prized for their meat, which has led to a decline in their numbers in Florida. In response, the State of Florida has banned the commercial fishing of Florida Softshell Turtles. The turtles seized in this case were found to have fish hooks buried in their esophagi, further indicating that they were captured illegally.

In May 2015, Mr. Shen was found guilty in Federal Court for contraventions under the Customs Act and fined $18,000 for smuggling the turtles.



Manning Environmental Law is a Canadian law firm based in Toronto, Ontario. Our practice is focussed on environmental law, energy law and climate change law. 

Paul Manning is a certified specialist in environmental law. He has been named as one of Canada’s leading Environmental Lawyers by Who’s Who Legal: Canada and ranked by Lexpert as one of Canada’s Leading Energy Lawyers.

As always, these posts  are provided only as a general guide and are not legal advice. If you do have any issue that requires legal advice please get in touch. Our contact details can be found here

This entry was posted in Environment, Environmental Enforcement, federal environmental regulation, International Environmental Law, Uncategorized, Wildlife and Endangered Species and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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