Arowana fish

Toronto pet store fined $35K for smuggling endangered fish into Canada

If you've ever been caught with apple in your backseat while crossing the border, you know very well how seriously the Canadian government takes foreign flora and fauna.

The owners of an exotic pet store in Toronto just found out the hard way in the form of $35,000 fine (though, to be fair, they should probably have already known about Canada's strict animal import laws).

Representatives for a business called Magical Aquarium Club, located at 1191 Kennedy Road in Scarborough, pleaded guilty in an Ontario courtroom this week to the illegal trafficking of an endangered species.

Environment and Climate Change Canada had alleged that a pet store employee referred to as 'Mr. Tao' violated wild animal and plant protection laws by importing twenty-six live Asian arowana fish into Canada without a permit on December 7, 2018.

"The trade in arowanas is controlled because the species is listed in Appendix I of CITES, the most trade-restrictive category," reads a release from the federal agency.

"For this reason, two CITES permits are required to legally import specimens into Canada, one permit from the country of export and one from Canada, the country of import. The company did not obtain an import permit."

Magical Aquarium Club has been ordered to pay $35,000, all of which "will be directed toward the Government of Canada's Environmental Damages Fund."

Tao himself is prohibited from legally importing wild animals under the act he violated for a period of two years, while Magical Aquarium Club must forfeit all of their arowana fish to The Crown.

Silly as the surrender of fish may seem, arowanas can be worth quite a bit of money — up to $300,000 a pop in some markets.

"In Malaysia, five arowana were reportedly stolen from a woman’s house and in a separate incident, an aquarium owner was stabbed to death and almost beheaded over the fish," reads a CNBC piece on the pet last year.

"At fish beauty pageants, armed guards escort the rare breeds."

Known as a status symbol among extremely wealthy Chinese and Singaporeans, the exorbitantly expensive fish can grow up to three feet long and are thought to bring about good luck.

Clearly, these shimmering lucky charms didn't work well for Magical Aquarium Club.

Lead photo by

Wikimedia Commons


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