A federal judge has ordered a Florida Keys fish exporter to pay a $250,000 fine and placed the company on five years of probation for falsely labeling seafood it sent to China as Florida spiny lobster.
The company, Elite Sky International Inc., based in the Middle Keys city of Marathon, mislabeled the product because of increased demand overseas due to Florida spiny lobster becoming a delicacy in China and other parts of Asia, according to federal prosecutors.
The company is accused of exporting 63,000 pounds of spiny lobster it bought from Nicaragua and Belize between November 2018 and October 2019 and exporting it to China in boxes labeled “Live Florida Spiny Lobsters, Product of the USA,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release.
Attorneys for Elite Sky International did not respond to requests for comment.
The company also exported about 5,666 pounds of shark fins it received from licensed local fishermen and exported them to China in boxes labeled “Live Florida Spiny Lobster, Product of the USA,” or “Frozen Fish,” prosecutors said.
As part of Judge K. Michael Moore’s Feb. 21 order, Elite Sky’s probation includes a requirement it establish a corporate compliance program and retain third-party, independent auditors to oversee its future business activities.