British Columbia

B.C. seafood company pleads guilty to illegally importing fish into the U.S.

A British Columbia seafood seller has admitted to illegally importing into the U.S. thousands of pounds of fish that were deemed unsafe to eat.

Seven Seas Fish Company will pay $150k fine, owner could face up to a year in jail

Fresh fish including sea bass is pictured above in a Toronto restaurant. Frozen corvina, a white fish similar to sea bass, was rejected from entering the U.S. but then repackaged in Canada and sold in Washington. (Suresh Doss) (Suresh Doss/CBC)

A British Columbia seafood seller has admitted to illegally importing into the U.S. thousands of pounds of fish that were deemed unsafe to eat.

Seven Seas Fish Company, a seafood wholesaler based in Richmond, B.C., and its owner, John Heras, pleaded guilty in court in Seattle, Wash., on Friday. 

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the fish — which had been purchased in Mexico — had previously been rejected from entering the United States during an inspection.

When the food inspection officers examined the fish, they found a third of the samples they examined were decomposed and putrid. The shipment was refused entry into the U.S. but the company was allowed to bring it to its plant in Canada. 

The 78-year-owner of the company, Heras, cooked and ate the fish after it arrived in B.C., according to the U.S. Department of Justice, claiming there was nothing wrong with the rejected seafood. 

The frozen corvina, a white fish similar to sea bass, was then repackaged and imported to western Washington during 2014 and 2015 without notifying the required health authorities. 

No illnesses were linked to its consumption but importing previously refused food comes with hefty fines and possible jail time. 

Seven Seas Fish Company has agreed to pay a $150,000 fine, and Heras could face up to a year in jail when he's sentenced in February. 

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.