UNITED STATES NEWS

Canadian company pleads guilty to shipping banned seal oil to US

Jun 6, 2023, 9:17 AM

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A Canadian company has pleaded guilty to violating federal law by illegally selling seal oil capsules to American customers.

The oil is made from the blubber of seals and sold as a nutritional supplement with a promise of containing healthy fats. The company, FeelGood Natural Health Stores of Whitby, Ontario, sold and transported capsules made from harp seals, the U.S. Department of Justice said Monday.

The company’s actions are illegal under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which makes it unlawful to transport or sell any marine mammal or byproducts for most commercial purposes. The act protects the harp seal throughout its range, including the North Atlantic and Artic oceans and the waters off New England.

FeelGood shipped more than 900 bottles of the capsules worth more than $10,000 to the U.S. from 2019 to 2021, the Justice Department said.

“The illegal importation of marine mammal products not only violates the Marine Mammal Protection Act but also jeopardizes the safety of protected species such as harp seals,” said U.S. Attorney Dawn N. Ison for the Eastern District of Michigan, which prosecuted the case.

Harp seals are listed as a special species of “least concern” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, though their population declined to low levels in the 1960s due to hunting. They now have a global population of about 7 million, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. They have been hunted off of Canada for thousands of years.

FeelGood entered its plea on Monday and will be sentenced on Sept. 28. Representatives for the company did not respond to requests for comment on Tuesday. The company pleaded guilty to one count of violating the Lacey Act, which combats wildlife trafficking, in violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

A plea agreement states that the company will pay a fine of $20,000 and face three years of probation, during which it must create and implement a compliance plan, train employees and cooperate with the U.S. government, the Justice Department said. The maximum sentence for the charge of violating the Lacey Act, is a $500,000 fine and five years probation, the department said.

The Justice Department said FeelGood sold the seal oil capsules via its own website and a third-party platform. The company’s website describes it as a worldwide shipper of supplements and natural remedies. Seal oil products were still on the company’s website on Tuesday and were marked with a notice that they cannot be shipped to the U.S.

When it was shipping the seal oil to the U.S., the company sent it direct from Canada or through fulfillment centers run by a third party in the U.S., the Justice Department said. In some instances, it sent the items to a covert U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service special agent, the Justice Department said.

“Our wildlife laws were passed to ensure the continued existence and enjoyment of these natural resources for future generations,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.

United States News

Associated Press

Bernice Johnson Reagon, whose powerful voice helped propel the Civil Rights Movement, has died

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Bernice Johnson Reagon, a musician and scholar who used her rich, powerful contralto voice in the service of the American Civil Rights Movement and human rights struggles around the world, died on July 16, according to her daughter’s social media post. She was 81. Reagon was probably best known as the […]

51 minutes ago

ADD MORE LOCATIONS FILE - An envelope containing a 2020 census letter mailed to a U.S. resident is ...

Associated Press

US census takers to conduct test runs in the South and West 4 years before 2030 count

Six places in the South and West will host practice runs four years prior to the 2030 U.S. census, a nationwide head count that helps determine political power and the distribution of federal funds. Residents of western Texas; tribal lands in Arizona; Colorado Springs, Colorado; western North Carolina; Spartanburg, South Carolina; and Huntsville, Alabama, will […]

56 minutes ago

Vice President Kamala Harris arrives to speak from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington,...

Associated Press

FACT FOCUS: A look at false claims around Kamala Harris and her campaign for the White House

The announcement that Vice President Kamala Harris will seek the Democratic nomination for president is inspiring a wave of false claims about her eligibility and her background. Some first emerged years ago, while others only surfaced after President Joe Biden’s decision to end his bid for a second term. Here’s a look at the facts. […]

57 minutes ago

Vice President Kamala Harris walks back into the White House after speaking from the South Lawn of ...

Associated Press

Kamala Harris smashes fundraising record with stunning $81 million haul over 24 hours

NEW YORK (AP) — Kamala Harris is smashing fundraising records as the Democratic Party’s donors — big and small — open their wallets for the vice president in the immediate aftermath of President Joe Biden’s stunning decision to step aside. In total, Harris’ team raised more than $81 million in the 24-hour period since Biden’s […]

60 minutes ago

FILE - Emergency personnel arrive to evacuate people at a mass shelter, Sept. 2, 2021, in Independe...

Associated Press

No prison for a nursing home owner who sent 800 residents to ride out a hurricane in squalor

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A Louisiana businessman who sent more than 800 elderly residents from his seven nursing homes to ride out Hurricane Ida in a crowded, ill-equipped warehouse pleaded no contest to 15 criminal counts Monday and was sentenced to three years of probation. Bob Dean Jr. also must pay more than $358,000 in […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

New Orleans civil rights icon Tessie Prevost dead at 69

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Funeral services will be held Saturday for one of four Black girls who helped integrate New Orleans public schools in 1960. Tessie Prevost Williams, known as one of the “New Orleans Four,” died July 6 following a series of medical complications. She was 69. On Nov. 14, 1960, Prevost Williams, along […]

1 hour ago

Sponsored Articles

...

COLLINS COMFORT MASTERS

Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

Canadian company pleads guilty to shipping banned seal oil to US