CINCINNATI—U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialists at the Port of Cincinnati intercepted 51 shipments—about 3,400 pounds or 3,700 crustaceans—of invasive mitten crabs over the past four months.
The shipments originated in China and Hong Kong and were destined for residences and businesses in multiple U.S. states, although most were headed to New York. All were falsely manifested as tools and various clothing articles. CBP referred the live crabs to U.S. Fish and Wildlife (FWS) inspectors onsite, and all violations are currently under review.
Mitten crabs are a seasonal delicacy in Asia and retail for approximately $50 per crab in the United States. Their predation and competition with native species has earned them a place on the Invasive Species Specialist Group’s list of “100 of the World’s Worst Invasive Alien Species.”
Mitten crabs have been found in California waterways, the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays, and the Hudson River. During fall months they are imported from Asia through U.S. international express and mail facilities where CBP and FWS await to refuse entry because of their disastrous impact on native habitats. It is illegal to import mitten crabs and other injurious wildlife into the United States without a permit as specified in the Federal Lacey Act.
“As a unified border agency, CBP is committed to a fully integrated approach toward international security,” said Cincinnati CBP Supervisory Agriculture Specialist Barbara Hassan. “In this case, we worked closely with FWS to stop a serious threat to our economy and ecology.”
Nationwide, CBP agriculture specialists and officers and FWS inspectors refused entry on more than 15,000 mitten crabs since September. The Port of Cincinnati saw the highest volume of the smuggled animals, with the second largest number coming through Los Angeles ports of entry.
CBP’s dual mission is to facilitate legitimate trade and travel in the United States while securing the nation’s borders. To find out more about U.S. Customs and Border Protection in the Cincinnati area, visit @CBP Chicago on Twitter.