Amazon and eBay hosted ads for banned invasive species

Unregulated traders are using the sites to sell some of the world’s most invasive plants, with potentially devastating impacts on ecosystems. Amazon and eBay appear to have openly broken the law by hosting listings to ship banned invasive species to the UK, the Guardian can reveal. Both eBay and Amazon have previously been criticised for hosting ivory traders, but the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) rates invasive species as a more significant threat to biodiversity than poaching for animal parts.

In February, the CBD said there was an “urgent need” to control the vast, unregulated network of online traders who buy and sell these pests across the globe. In the UK, the government has banned seven species of aquatic weed from sale or advertisement in England because they have destructively colonised rivers and waterways.

But at least three were openly available for sale on eBay and one on Amazon for delivery to any Briton with a credit card. Ebay carried several advertisements offering to ship floating pennywort (Hydrocotyle ranunculoides), water fern (Azolla filiculoides) and parrot’s feather (Myriophyllum aquaticum), all native to the Americas, into the UK. Amazon had two listings (one inactive) for parrot’s feather. Vendors were located in Latvia, Australia, Poland, Germany and even inside the UK.

Sales information is not publicly available and neither company would comment on whether any plants listed were in fact sold into the UK. But Andrew Wiseman, one of the UK’s leading environmental lawyers, told the Guardian that in his opinion Amazon and eBay had broken the law by hosting advertisements on their British websites.

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