Statement - Minister Baird applauds break-up of major endangered species smuggling ring



    OTTAWA, Sept. 26 /CNW Telbec/ - Canada's Environment Minister, John
Baird, today released the following statement in response to news that
Environment Canada enforcement officers, along with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration fisheries
officers, have dismantled a major ring involved in the smuggling of queen
conch meat, an internationally protected marine endangered species.
    "This operation clearly demonstrates the need to get tough on the killing
and smuggling of endangered species," said Minister Baird. "The Government of
Canada is committed to do its part domestically and internationally to stop
the illegal trafficking of species at risk. Strong enforcement of our
environmental laws will protect our wildlife and ensure clean air, water and
green spaces for the benefit of all Canadians."
    Operation Shell Game, an 18-month long investigation, involved federal
wildlife officers in Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, and
Florida. Canadian and U.S. border officials also contributed to the
investigation. The smuggling operation is believed to have been responsible
for illegally importing and/or exporting 119,978 kilograms (263,953 lbs, the
equivalent of nearly seven fully loaded semi trailers) of queen conch
(Strombus gigas) meat from several Caribbean and South American countries to
Canada and the United States.
    "On behalf of all Canadians, I would like to thank our enforcement
officers for the hard work they continue to do to enforce our environmental
laws. We need to be constantly on guard to protect our endangered species, and
get tough on those who break the law."

    (Egalement offert en français)




For further information:

For further information: Eric Richer, Press Secretary, Office of the
Minister of the Environment, (819) 997-1441; Environment Canada Media
Relations, (819) 934-8008, 1-888-908-8008


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