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Heng Hing Trading Ltd. Ordered to Pay $5000 For Unlawful Import of Protected Plants

BRAMPTON, Ont. – May 30, 2012 – Heng Hing Trading Ltd., located in Richmond Hill, Ontario, was convicted in the Ontario Court of Justice in Brampton, Ontario, after pleading guilty to one count of unlawful import of plant parts without the required permits. Heng Hing Trading Ltd. (which also operates under the name Heng Hing Dry Seafoods) was fined $5000 plus a victim surcharge fee of $1250 and ordered to forfeit all plant part products.

The incident leading to these convictions occurred in November 2011, when Heng Hing Dry Seafoods imported a shipment of a variety of traditional Asian herbs, foodstuffs and plant material from Hong Kong into Canada. Upon inspection of the shipment by Environment Canada Wildlife Officers, a total of 1500 mislabeled packages were found to contain a plant material subsequently confirmed as dried tree fern roots (Cibotium barometz).  

Tree fern, also known in Chinese trade as "gou ji", is a protected species of flora under the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and Canada’s legislation, the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act (WAPPRIITA). Its parts and derivatives are commonly used in dried form as medicinal herbs. However, a CITES export permit is required from the foreign country of export for its legal import into Canada.

CITES is an international agreement to regulate trade in specific species of wild animals and plants, as well as their respective parts and derivatives. Environment Canada is the lead agency responsible for implementing CITES and enforcing WAPPRIITA in Canada.

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