A seafood importer and former chef in Richmond has been fined $40,000 for possessing illegal Northern abalone.
Kai Kin Ng, owner of Kin Seafood Importing Corporation, was handed the hefty fine in Richmond Provincial Court on May 15 for trading in a threatened species. Northern abalone, known also as pinto abalone, is protected under the federal Species at Risk Act.
Officers from the Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans searched facilities owned by Ng's company in December 2010. Authorities seized 280 kilograms of abalone worth anywhere from $30,000 to $100,000 as evidence.
"In order to sell illegal abalone they're typically hidden with legal types," said Art Demsky, a fisheries officer involved in the seizure.
Abalone is considered a luxury product in parts of Asia and Latin America and the delicacy can be found in many Asian supermarkets in the Lower Mainland. Roberta Stevenson, executive director of the B.C. Shellfish Growers Association, said high prices commanded by the shellfish encourages poaching.
Demsky said Ng's shipment contained a number of boxes that had Northern abalone mixed in with legal Mexican green and pink varieties.
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