This notice was photographed in the window of the former Seven Seas Fish Market site in South Surrey’s South Point Annex in October. (File photo)

This notice was photographed in the window of the former Seven Seas Fish Market site in South Surrey’s South Point Annex in October. (File photo)

$2,000 fine for owner of now-closed South Surrey fish store

‘Increased scrutiny’ for Seven Seas Fish Co. for next three years

The owner of a seafood company formerly associated with South Surrey has been ordered to pay a $2,000 fine after pleading guilty in October to illegally importing fish into the U.S. five years ago.

READ MORE: Owner of now-closed South Surrey seafood store pleads guilty to illegally importing fish into U.S.

According to a news release issued by the U.S. Department of Justice, John Heras of Seven Seas Fish Company received the sentence – which also includes a year of probation – Friday (Dec. 6) in U.S. District Court in Seattle.

The company, which agreed in October to a $150,000 fine, was given six months to pay the penalty, and has been placed on three years probation, “with increased scrutiny and surveillance of its imports into the U.S.”

U.S. attorney Brian Moran noted the offence was the company’s “third strike.”

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

Seven Seas used to operate in South Point Annex, at 103-2990 152 St. It continues to do business in Kitsilano and Richmond.

A statement issued Friday by Seven Seas notes it has “vigorously defended the quality and safety of the 2014 fish shipment in question,” and that the guilty plea to the “misdemeanour violation” reflects this.

As well, the company has “learned from the event in question,” and has invested in its processes, tools and training “to ensure rigorous regulatory compliance and quality management.”

“Our company founder, John Heras, is no longer active in the business,” the statement adds.

According the U.S. DOJ release, the shipment in question was purchased in June 2014 from a seafood company in Mexico. After examination by Food and Drug Administration officers “determined that one-third of the samples … were more than 20 percent spoiled,” the fish was refused entry to the U.S.

Seven Seas then shipped it lawfully to its Richmond plant, claiming it would be distributed in Canada. Heras, after cooking and tasting some of the product, and “despite his knowledge that the fish had been refused entry to the U.S.,” encouraged others within the company to sell it to customers in Washington State and elsewhere, the release states.

No illness has been linked to those who ate the fish, it adds.

Seven Seas’ statement says third-party analysis “concluded the fish shipment was of the quality we expect – and met food quality and safety standards.”

“We understand that exporting products into the U.S. is a privilege, not a right. 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.”

Regarding Moran’s “third strike” comment, the DOJ cites a 2008 seizure of Canadian salmon due to its capture by illegal gill netting, as well as a $50,000 fine levied in 2009 “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,” the release adds.

Seven Seas didn’t address the previous incidents in its initial emailed statement, but issued an amended statement Tuesday night to “disagree with the characterizations.”

“Neither were criminal nor impacted the quality of our products and the safety of our customers,” the amendment states.

Seven Seas was not a direct party to the illegal gill netting, it says – and no longer works with the buying agent it was dealing with at that time – and, the DOJ’s statement regarding the 2009 salmon sale was “misleading,” as the fish in question “was never intended for human consumption.”



tholmes@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

File photo
Surrey Board of Trade vows ‘a lot of noise’ will be made about tax increases

Huberman calls for comprehensive tax review at all levels of government

William Henry Rawlison was last seen on Sunday, June 20, 2021. (Contributed photo)
Police looking for missing White Rock senior

William Rawlison, last seen on June 20, may be driving to Kamloops

TEASER PHOTO ONLY - Hillcrest Drive-In's sign at the end its run in Surrey, in a photo uploaded to cinematreasures.org by hermangotlieb.
SURREY NOW & THEN: The city’s last drive-in, Hillcrest showed movies for 50 years on site turned shopping mall

‘It was a good memory, being the last drive-in in the Lower Mainland, at the time,’ says former operator Jay Daulat

United Truckers Association members outside Labour Minister/Surrey-Newton MLA Harry Bains’ office on Monday, June 21. (submitted photo: UTA)
Protesting truckers park outside Labour Minister’s Surrey office; daily rallies promised

The truckers take issue with unlicensed trucks taking work away from legitimate owner operators, and more

Natalie Brown and Colten Wilke star in the feature film Thunderbird, co-produced by South Surrey-raised Michael Morrison and released this month in Canada, the U.S and the U.K. (Contributed photo)
South Surrey-raised producer helps bring ‘Thunderbird’ to the screen

Michael Morrison guides B.C.-shot thriller with First Nations connection

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

A blood drive in support of 1-year-old Rielynn Gormley of Agassiz is scheduled for Monday, June 28 at Tzeachten First Nation Community Hall in Chilliwack. Rielynn lives with type 3 von Willebrand disease, which makes it difficult for her to stop bleeding. (Screenshot/Canadian Blood Services)
Upcoming blood drive in honour of Fraser Valley toddler with rare blood condition

The Gormley family has organized a blood drive in Chilliwack on June 28

Most Read