Businessman faces huge fine for smuggling protected marines

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A businessman in Canada has been found guilty of smuggling protected coral, giant clams and seahorses into Winnipeg from Indonesia.

Jason Daeninck, who owns a company called Salt Water Connection, was found guilty of 18 charges under the federal Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act.

Daeninck was arrested after Canada Customs intercepted a shipment of protected scleratinia rock in British Columbia. An international permit, required to import or export this coral-containing rock hadn't been obtained and further investigations led to a search of Daeninck's home and business premises.

Investigators found that he had been involved in other illegal shipments of giant clams and seahorses, protected by similar regulations. None of these have ever been recovered and officials believe they were brought into Canada for sale on the black market.

According to the  report in the Winnipeg Free Press, Daeninck claimed at trial that he had received the protected rock in error and had actually ordered a different type which he planned to use in building a fence on his property.

Provincial court Judge Ray Wyant rejected his version of events, calling it "meek and unbelievable." He said the fence-building story was laughable, considering the type of rock Daeninck claims he was truly trying to obtain would likely not have withstood the rigours of a cold Prairie winter.

"He was playing fast and loose with the international importation of protected species," Wyant said.

Daeninck could face fines in excess of $1m, plus a possible jail sentence.

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