B.C. seafood company owner given one-year probation for illegally importing fish deemed unsafe to eat to US

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“The company has a tarnished record regarding its compliance with import regulations”. Seven Seas Fish Company owner John Heras sentenced for importing four tonnes of fish which had been refused entry due to spoilage, then was relabeled and imported into Western Washington, USA.

In a statement, BC, Canada-based seafood seller Seven Seas Fish writes that its owner John Heras was, at sentencing, ordered ordered to pay an additional fine of USD 2,000 and given one-year probation.

The company was given three-years’ probation and ordered to pay a USD 150,000 fine within six months of the 6th of December.

The family-owned business has been running since 1967. On its site, Seven Seas Fish Company sells a range of fish including its unique 7 Seas Products that include wild smoked sockeye salmon.

According to records filed in the case, in June 2014, Seven Seas purchased around 5.5 tonnes a white fish similar to sea bass. The fish was purchased for USD 36,375 from a seafood company in Mexico. Seven Seas attempted to have the fish imported into the U.S. at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry.

In October, the 78-year-old owner and company pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Seattle to the importation of previously refused food.

“On two prior occasions, this company put its financial success over the food import regulations and the safety of consumers,” said U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran.  “Now, with a third strike, it is appropriate that the company and its part-owner face a federal criminal conviction and its consequences.”

The company said that: “While we acknowledge our role in this matter and understand how our approach and communications with authorities should have been handled more proactively, at no time did we put customer health and safety at risk or accept and distribute sub-par quality”. The company claims John Heras no longer has a leadership role at Seven Seas.

The FDA has not found any illness linked to those who consumed the fish.

In a press release, Department of Justice’s U.S. Attorney’s Office for Western District of Washington had strong words about the company’s reputation: 

“The company has a tarnished record regarding its compliance with import regulations.  In 2008, Canadian salmon owned by the company was seized because it was sold in violation of Canadian law and the Lacey Act.  The fish, worth nearly $100,000, had been caught by illegal gill netting.

“Just one year later, in 2009, Seven Seas was fined $50,000 for selling salmon without notifying regulators after the fish had been detained because it was found unfit for human consumption.  The fish was sold for mink feed, but without the required notice to the agency that had issued the detainer, it added.