Richmond company caught importing protected species again

A Richmond-based company has been fined $50,000 for illegally importing a protected species of orchid from Asia.

Topwin Trading Co. Ltd, which used to have a warehouse on Olafsen Avenue near Bridgeport and Shell roads, pleaded guilty to illegally importing a herbal oil containing a protected orchid species.

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According to Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), Topwin Trading violated a trade act. Three years ago, Canada Border Services Agency intercepted a shipment containing more than 10,000 vials of the oil.

ECCC said a shipping invoice indicated the shipment of 51 boxes of vials included plant material derived from a species of orchid native to East Asia and known as the hyacinth orchid or Chinese ground orchid.

The company admitted violating the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act (WAPPRIITA).

Topwin Trading also pleaded guilty in 2010 to illegally importing a carton of another plant species, commonly used in dried form as a medicinal herb.

A news release from ECCC said “environmental crime is a serious and growing international problem.”

Of the total fine, $45,000 will be directed towards the Government of Canada's Environmental Damages Fund and $5,000 will be paid as a fine.

In addition, the court ordered that the 51 cases of seized product be forfeited.

All orchid species are listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

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