HOUSTON -- U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists working at George Bush Intercontinental Airport discovered 55 dead seahorses (Hippocampus sp.) hidden in a traveler’s luggage.
According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), there is a passenger baggage limit of four seahorses per passenger.
The traveler, a visitor from Vietnam arrived, March 1, and declared that he was not carrying any agriculture-related items. However, when CBP agriculture specialists examined his luggage, the traveler admitted he was bringing fish into the country. During their inspection, agriculture specialists discovered a soft drink bottle wrapped in a white bag with the seahorses submerged in liquid.
“Customs and Border Protection along with our partners at the Fish and Wildlife Service are committed to interrupting the international trafficking of protected and endangered species,” said CBP Port Director Charles Perez.
CBP detained the seahorses for FWS inspectors. Seahorses are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) because they are over-harvested for aquarium trade and medical research.
FWS inspectors seized all 55 seahorses since the passenger exceeded the limit and failed to declare the seahorses. Rules and regulations for importing seahorses are available by viewing FWS Seahorses.
CBP agriculture specialists have extensive training and experience in biological sciences, risk analysis, and agriculture inspectional techniques. They are the first line of defense in the protection of U.S. agriculture, forest and livestock industries from exotic plant pests and animal diseases. Read more about CBP’s agriculture protection mission.
Travelers are encouraged to visit CBP’s Travel section to learn rules, tips and advice to help quickly complete their CBP international arrivals inspection.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.