Yahoo Auctions clamps down on sales of endangered species

Courtesy of the Environment Ministry
Top: Medaka Japanese rice fish
Bottom: Gengoro Japanese diving beetle

The major online marketplace Yahoo Auctions introduced new rules for private sellers Thursday, increasing the number of species on its prohibited list to about 5,300 endangered species.

The auction site has banned private sellers from listing 3,772 endangered species and 1,526 near-threatened species, including the rare medaka rice fish and gengoro diving beetle, among the more than 6,000 species on the Environment Ministry’s Red List.

Site operator Yahoo Japan Corp. said it will consider adding more to the ban list if it suspects the sale of a species through the service is negatively impacting its ecosystem, such as listings with large quantities of a specific species.

The sale of hundreds of species on the Red List is prohibited under the law for the conservation of endangered species of wild fauna and flora, but trading restrictions do not exist for most species on the list.

Among the site’s users, registered businesses, which have to disclose the name of a representative and contact information, will be allowed to continue selling specimens on the list if they have been artificially bred.

“While we want users to be able to trade freely, it is also important to protect biodiversity, so we decided to take action even though it falls outside the scope of the law,” a Yahoo Japan official said.

Other major online marketplaces, such as Mercari and Rakuten Rakuma, have already prohibited the sale of living creatures.

“Some trading sites have not yet voluntarily established regulations, but it is hoped they will follow suit,” said Kazunori Tanaka, a researcher at Hokkaido University who has been investigating online sales of Japanese crayfish, an endangered species on Yahoo Auctions’ ban list. “Users also need to be careful not to buy or sell endangered species.”