Begin forwarded message:
From: “Dr. David Scarfe”
Date: 6 November 2014 7:07:15 AWST
Subject: AquaVetMed e-News: Legal Penalties for Violating Australia’s Fish Import/Biosecurity Requirements
November 5, 2014
Caught and in Court
Australia Biosecurity – The strength of our intelligence and enforcement capability has hit hard for two businesses who tried to conceal their shonky dealings from the Department of Agriculture and have paid the price for putting Australia’s biosecurity at risk. Failing to comply with import conditions has cost a fish farming business $36,000 and a conviction in the Brisbane Magistrates court.
The owner of Bay Tropical Fish Farm Pty Ltd, Jared Ross Patrick, pleaded guilty to 30 charges in the Brisbane Magistrates Court and was convicted under section 67(5) of the Quarantine Act 1908. As a Quarantine Approved Premises (QAP), Bay Tropical Fish Farm was required to keep fish separate and not engage in unauthorised use of antibiotics. The fish farm supplies the retail aquarium market with imported ornamental freshwater fish.
People convicted of illegal importation under the Quarantine Act face up to 10 years jail. In cases of commercial importation a fine of up to $1.7 million per offence can also apply.
In Perth, Vihentico Pty Ltd and the business owner, James Huynh, received a $52,500 fine for illegally importing 26,040 packets of Songlin Brand Fish Maw from Taiwan between July 2007 and July 2010. He also received a suspended eight month custodial sentence and a $5000 good behaviour bond. First Assistant Secretary of the Department of Agriculture’s Compliance Division, Raelene Vivian, said fish maw is traditionally made from the swim bladders of fish. “But this brand of the product contains pork skin and not a single trace of fish,” she said. Australia does not allow pork products to be imported from Taiwan. The fish maw had been deliberately concealed among other products and fraudulently invoiced as Huynh knew it was prohibited in Australia.
Ms Vivian said that the department takes its job seriously. “We do a lot of work to help importers comply with Australia’s laws but we know there are people who intentionally put our country at risk,” she said. “This is why we have a series of risk management measures in place across the continuum, including random inspections and audits of importer premises.”
Source: Australia Biosecurity Bulletin – Edition 5, 2014 (http://tinyurl.com/pg4s6sf).
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