STERLING, Virginia – US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialists discovered a container of 20 live seahorses while inspecting the baggage of a Vietnamese woman who had arrived at Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia on a flight from South Korea.
According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), there is a passenger baggage limit of 4 seahorses per passenger, but FWS inspectors would not allow her to take 4 of the seahorses with her, and instead seized all 20 as punishment for exceeding the limit and failing to declare the seahorses.
The seahorses were detained for FWS inspectors to examine. 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 for medical research.
In addition to the seahorses, CBP also discovered prohibited pork and fruit in the woman’s baggage, and assessed her a $300 penalty for failing to declare any of it.