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The federal government is continuing its strategy of infrequent environmental prosecutions with large penalties. Last week, Gregory (Greg) Logan, of Woodmans Point, New Brunswick, was convicted of seven offences for the illegal export of  250 Narwhal ivory tusks to the United States over seven years. He must pay a record penalty of $385,000. This penalty is the largest in Canada for offences under the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act (WAPPRIITA). However, Environment Canada has not announced how much Mr. Logan made from his illegal trades.

In addition, Mr. Logan must serve an eight-month conditional sentence, including four months of house arrest. He is prohibited from possessing or purchasing marine mammal products for 10 years. The items he used to smuggle the tusks across the border have been forfeited, including a truck and trailer.

In Canada, only Inuit may harvest the elegant narwhal. Narwhal, often referred to as “the unicorn of the sea”, is recognized as a species of special concern by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. It is also listed as a protected species under Appendix II of the Convention in International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES, an international agreement, sets controls on the movement of animal and plant species that are, or may be, threatened due to excessive commercial exploitation.

The greatest threat to narwhal, however, is climate change, which is destroying the ice they depend on. On that topic, Environment Canada is remarkably silent.

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