Decision Maker Response
Oct 10, 2017 — At Etsy, we believe that business can be a force for good, and we are always striving to find ways to more closely align our business practices with our values. Many of our sellers also share these values, and have taken it upon themselves to make ethical choices in the running of their businesses. It is important to note that Etsy is not a traditional retailer with a curated inventory, but a marketplace comprised of 1.8 million independent sellers. We are very careful about the policies we promulgate for our platform. We consider many different and often divergent factors before coming to a decision about what is best for our community and platform. We know that even those items we allow are subject to a variety of valid and sometimes conflicting interpretations and values. Art, animal products, and historical pieces can be provocative, emotional, and divisive. There are some topics on which we may never reach a consensus as a community.
Unlike many other online venues, we have just one global marketplace instead of a separate marketplace for each country. This also creates unique policy challenges, because we want to come up with a global policy that strikes the right balance for all of our buyers and sellers, as well as our broader stakeholders. Sometimes certain jurisdictions have stricter regulations than our global policies, and in those cases we rely on government agents to identify any listings that violate local laws, and we will remove them.
Our policy regarding animal products on our platform is to follow international industry standards to ban endangered and threatened animal species, as outlined in the US Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Appendix I. With the help of trusted NGO partners, we proactively remove ESA and CITES Appendix I species from our marketplace. We also require that our sellers agree to our policies when they list items for sale on our site, which includes following their local laws and obtaining any necessary permits.
Seahorses fall under CITES Appendix II, which means that they are not endangered, but some jurisdictions require sellers to obtain permits in order to sell them. While we do not monitor CITES Appendix II species, we will remove listings reported to us by a government agency in jurisdictions where their sale is prohibited. We are certainly empathetic to your concern about seahorses and support your advocacy, but as we are not qualified to make decisions about the classification of endangered species, we will continue to rely on the CITES Appendix I (as well as compliance with local law) in our policy enforcement. Perhaps you could lobby CITES to move seahorses to Appendix I, which would place greater restrictions on their trade, and bring them within the scope of our Prohibited Items Policy. Our policy development is an ongoing process, and we thank you for your suggestions, which we will take into consideration as we continue to develop our policies around animal products.