US Customs and Border Protection seizes 3,400 pounds of invasive mitten crabs

Published on
January 27, 2020

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has seized 3,700 live mitten crabs – sent under false manifests – shipped from China and Hong Kong to individuals and businesses in the United States over the past four months.

The crabs were sent in 51 separate shipments through the port of Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.A., and weighed in at around 3,400 pounds, according to a CBP press release. Mitten crab is considered to be an invasive species that can have a “disastrous impact on native habitats,” according to CBP.

The crabs, most of which were sent listed as tools and clothing articles under false manifests, were seized as they were sent without a permit as specified in the Lacey Act, a federal law that bans trafficking in illegal wildlife. Most of the shipments were en route to New York, where each crab can retail for up to USD 50 (EUR 45.40), according to CBP.

“As a unified border agency, CBP is committed to a fully integrated approach toward international security,” Cincinnati CBP Supervisory Agriculture Specialist Barbara Hassan said. “In this case, we worked closely with FWS to stop a serious threat to our economy and ecology.”

The CBP and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refused entry for more than 15,000 mitten crabs since September 2019. The species is available seasonally in fall, when CBP typically observes a bump in their shipment from Asia to U.S. customers through international express and mail facilities. Cincinnati led all U.S. ports with the most mitten crab seizures in 2019, followed by Los Angeles.

Invasive mitten crabs have been found in waterways in California, New York, and in the Chesapeake and Delaware bays.

Photo courtesy of Customs and Border Protection

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