According to the Winnipeg Free Press, Jason Daeninck, owner of Salt Water Connection (or SWC), has apparently been convicted of illegally importing protected live rock, sea horses and giant clams into the city of Winnipeg from Indonesia. Daeninck was found guilty of 18 charges under the federal Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act and faces fines up to $1 million fine and some jail time. The business owner was originally arrested in 2007 after Canadian customs agents got their hands on an illegal shipment of 20,000 pounds of live rock. After seizing the shipment, agents searched Daeninck’s home only to find that he had been involved in other illegal shipments that included sea horses and clams. The rulings were, of course, appealed. Daeninck argued that the rock was ordered to build a fence and that the wrong type of rock must have been shipped to him, also claiming that the mistake shouldn’t be his responsibility. However, the judge didn’t buy the argument and denied the appeal. This decision to deny the appeal was made possible by the discovery of emails and duplicate sets of invoices designed to deceive customs officials. It should be noted that possessing or importing of the live rock isn’t illegal, but that Daeninck didn’t possess the appropriate permits.
While I’m not arguing with the evidence and in no way supporting what Daeninck did, we are a little worried about some of the wording of the news reports. According to the story, “…officials believe they were brought into Canada and then sold on the black market.” Now, I’m not sure what they mean with that wording or if they are referring to the aquarium trade as the black market. There is a possibility that these items were being sold off the books, but I find it hard to believe Daeninck could move 20,000 pounds of live rock and keep it all off the business ledger. Perhaps the rocks, seahorses, and clams were being sold in a storefront. Or maybe he was pushing them on the local scene as a cash-only venture. Regardless, he didn’t follow the rules and now has to face the punishment.
What we are also unsure of is how this will affect the business operations of Salt Water Connection. As we all know, SWC makes some pretty swanky protein skimmers, among other things of course. We would hate to see these items disappear from the aquarium equipment scene, but again these things are all out of our control.