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June 29, 2017

Portland seafood processor fined $550K for violating import laws

ISF Trading Co., a seafood processor in Portland, has been fined $552,500 for violating import laws when it purchased Canadian sea urchins from a supplier not authorized under Canadian law to export them to the United States.

Acting U.S. Attorney Richard W. Murphy for the District of Maine stated in a news release that U.S. District Court Judge John A. Woodcock Jr. also ordered the company to forfeit $297,500 and put it on probation for a year.

Located on Hobson's Wharf in Portland's waterfront, ISF Trading Co. is one of the largest sea urchin exporters to Japan from the United States, with annual sales of about $2 million, according to its website. The fresh sea urchin is processed in-house and shipped directly to retail and wholesale companies throughout the world.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Maine, ISF Trading violated the Lacey Act, a federal law that prohibits trade "in wildlife that has been illegally taken, possessed, transported or sold."

In a news release from last August, the office reported that ISF Trading pleaded guilty to illegally importing about 48,000 pounds of sea urchins, whose processed roe was worth at least $172,800, between Dec. 31, 2010, and Feb. 1, 2011.

The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, with help from several other U.S. and Canadian agencies.

"Illegal imports of fish or fish products harm honest fishermen, undercut importers and exporters who follow the law and distort fair trade," James Landon, director of NOAA's Office of Law Enforcement, said in a statement."

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