Seahorses were posted in parcel

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Customs officers intercepted a parcel being posted from the USA to the UK and found 100 endangered seahorses inside.

According to a report from The Independent, the parcel was intercepted by HM Customs officers working at Stanstead Airport in Essex, and had been posted airmail from Florida in the USA.

When the parcel was opened it was found to contain 102 tiny seahorses that were both rare and endangered species, and protected from international trade by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES).

HM Customs spokeswoman Maddy Ratnett told The Independent: "Whenever anything live comes into the country it should come by freight with all the right paperwork, not by parcel post.

"It was marked 'live tropical fish' so officers were immediately suspicious and when they looked inside they found 102 dwarf seahorses, which are protected.

"We think they must have been in transit for at least 24 hours in the cold and it is lucky that so many have survived. We immediately phoned Colchester Zoo who arrived within an hour of our discovery and we are delighted to say 92 of them survived."

Posting fishPractical Fishkeeping has recently been contacted by The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas), who were concerned that fishkeepers may have been attempting to import fishes into the UK by post, circumventing legal restrictions in place to prevent the import of endangered or diseased fishes.

Last month, we raised the issue of posting fish through the Royal Mail and Parcelforce systems after receiving complaints from Practical Fishkeeping readers that some sellers on eBay were sending live fishes by post.

Royal Mail told Practical Fishkeeping that it does not allow live fishes to be posted using any of its services, including Special Delivery. However, Parcel Force 24-hour services may be used to send "fish eggs or fry".

Practical Fishkeeping believes that some fishkeepers may be under the mistaken impression that they may post fry or young fish using Special Delivery, which is not the case.

Martine Mumby of the Royal Mail press office said: "I can categorically say that Special Delivery isn't classed as the same service as Parcelforce next day services. Royal Mail and Parcelforce are separate companies and it's Royal Mail policy not to send fish."

It is illegal to attempt to import or export live fishes or their eggs into or out of the UK through the international postage system.