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News Release

"Operation Serpent" leads to Fines and Jail Time

NEWMARKET, Ont. -- November 14, 2012 -- A joint Environment Canada and Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources operation has resulted in significant penalties against two defendants convicted of the unlawful sale, exportation and inter-provincial transport of live Snakehead fish. 

1240197 Ontario Inc., operating as Lucky Aquarium in Markham, and an employee of Lucky Aquarium, Mr. Muk Leung (Jimmy) Ip of Toronto, each pleaded guilty in the Ontario Court of Justice in Newmarket to two charges under the federal Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act (WAPPRIITA) of illegally exporting an invasive species, Snakehead fish (Channidae) to the United States and illegally transporting Snakehead fish from Ontario to Manitoba. Lucky Aquarium and Mr. Ip also pleaded guilty to four counts under the Ontario Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1997, of illegally selling Snakehead fish.

Lucky Aquarium was ordered to pay a total of $75,030 in fines and surcharges with an additional $1,250 to be paid for the publication of notices that warn of the dangers of invasive species, and outline the potential penalties for those who defy the law. Lucky Aquarium was also sentenced to two years of probation.

During probation, Lucky Aquarium must meet stringent requirements for reporting imports, exports, and sales of fish to Environment Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.  

On November 9, 2012, Mr. Ip was sentenced to two 60-day jail terms to be served concurrently, followed by two years of probation and will pay $1,250 towards the warning publication referenced above.

Lucky Aquarium and Mr. Ip were charged on June 5, 2012, by Environment Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources at the conclusion of a 12-month joint-forces undercover operation dubbed “Operation Serpent” by Environment Canada.

As a result of the joint-forces operation, Mr. Ip received a penalty of $13,000 for related charges brought by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation Police.

Please visit our website for further information on WAPPRIITA.

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For more information, contact:

Media Relations
Environment Canada
819-934-8008