13 FEBRUARY 2017 – Last month Lithuanian citizens took the streets to protest the extreme animal cruelty in the fur industry. Around 1000 participants gathered on the Gediminas Avenue in Vilnius to raise public awareness on the ethical problems associated with fur industry. The march was an initiative Fur Free Alliance member Open Cages (Tusti Narvai).
The march was meant to support the action of the member of Lithuanian Green Party, Linas Balsys, who recently registered an amendment of the Animal Welfare and Protection Law which would essentially ban rearing and killing animals for fur if it was introduced. The amendment in question will likely be voted on during the Parliament spring session.
The march for animals attracted people to join from all over Lithuania, as well as international participants from Germany, UK, Denmark and Latvia. Supporters of both the Green party and the Liberals could be seen holding protest signs. And several Lithuanian celebrities joined in.Gabija Enciute, one of the founders of Open Cages in Lithuania, commented after the rally near the Parliament:
“We are happy that so many people came. There must be some kind of political and social maturing going on. More people than ever seem outraged enough with the failing of the law to go out into the streets. Seeking to defend the weak – in this case, the animals – is a true sign of a mature society. We are trying to change the legislation, and we’re hopeful that Lithuania too will join the growing group of European countries that have banned the intrinsically unethical practice of fur farming”
Currently there are about 200 fur farms operating in Lithuania that altogether cause about 2 million animal deaths every year. The rally was organised in order to encourage the Lithuanian MPs to vote for the amendment in animal welfare legislation and draw their attention to the environmental and animal welfare problems in the fur industry. A 2016 representative poll shows that two thirds of the Lithuanian citizens don not support fur farming.
ESTONIA, 5 FEBRUARY 2017 – 69% of the Estonian population does not support raising and killing animals on farms for fur and 75% of the Estonians disapprove of the use of animals in circuses, as was found in the latest survey by Kantar Emor.
According to the survey, that was commissioned by the animal advocacy organization NGO Loomus, 81% of women and 55% of men disapprove of raising and killing animals on farms for fur. 82% of women and 67% of men disapprove of the use of wild animals in circuses. 69% of Estonians and Russians disapprove of raising and killing animals on farms for fur. 83% of Estonians and 58% of Russians disapprove of the use of wild animals in circuses. Kadri Taperson, the manager of Loomus, says:
“Estonian residents’ support for ending animal exploitation in circuses and on fur farms is growing year by year. In comparison to the survey conducted a couple of years ago, the number of people who disapprove of fur farms has grown by 11%. In March 2014, 43% of the people in Estonia thought that wild animals should not be used in circus acts. So, the number of these people has grown by as much as 32% in two and a half years,”
854 People aged 15-74 years participated in the national omnibus survey conducted in December 2016 by Kantar Emor.
Public opinion polls in Europe show high percentages of the population that consider raising and killing of animals for fur unacceptable:
Read more about the public opinion against fur farming.
BRUSSELS, 26 OCTOBER 2016 – The Walloon ban on fur farming is consistent with the Constitution, according to a ruling of the Belgian Constitutional Court which was published earlier today. The decision follows a request for annulment by Belgian fur farmers and European fur traders. They argued that the Walloon ban adopted last year was unconstitutional. ‘The Constitutional Court now confirms that animal welfare and fur farming are not compatible,‘ says Michel Vandenbosch, President of GAIA:
‘We are very pleased to hear this. What keeps the Flemish Government and the Flemish Animal Welfare Minister, Ben Weyts, who supported his Walloon colleague in this matter, from following the good example of Wallonia and put an end to the 16 remaining fur farms in Flanders?’
Read the full verdict (EN-FR) here.
In their complaint the fur farmers and traders argued that the decree unlawfully restricted their right to property as defined in the European Convention on Human Rights. The Constitutional Court disagrees and deems animal welfare more important. ‘A European precedent,‘ states Anthony Godfroid, the lawyer of GAIA, who represented the animal rights association. ‘Animal welfare is not only a legitimate criterion to restrict the right to property, the ruling of the Constitutional Court sets an important European precedent to safeguard the basic rights of animals. Moreover, it is quite remarkable that Flemish Animal Welfare Minister Ben Weyts supported his Walloon colleague in this matter.’ Michel Vandenbosch is pleased:
‘The successful collaboration between both Animal Welfare Ministers makes me feel hopeful about a future ban on fur farming in Flanders following the example of Wallonia, Brussels and several European countries. 85% of the Flemish population agrees that animals should not suffer or be gassed or killed in any other way for their fur. So when will fur farming end in Flanders?’
In Belgium, only mink are bred and gassed for their fur. Every year, 160.000 mink are locked up in small, barren ‘shoebox’ cages. The 16 existing Belgian fur farms are all located in Flanders.
PRAGUE, 25 OCTOBER 2016 – Last Thursday an international seminar took place in the Chamber of Debuties in Prague to discuss legislation concerning fur farming bans. The seminar, which was organized by animal protection organization Svoboda Zvirat and supported by the Fur Free Alliance, gathered experts on the political and legislative process, and the scientific grounds, of banning fur farming in support of a new bill in Czech Republic. The event was held under the patronage Robin Böhnisch, member of parliament and Chairman of the Committee on the Environment, who proposed the bill.
There are currently 9 fur farms in Czech Republic where minks and/or fox are bred. In spring of this year, a group of 50 deputies, led by Chairman of the Committee on the Environment Robin Böhnisch, submitted a draft law that would completely ban these farms:
‘Breeding and killing animals primarily for fur is no longer acceptable in the 21st century. Species like mink and fox can not be successfully domesticated. Therefore I welcome the powerful coalition across the political spectrum that the Chamber of Deputies has formed to support this proposal.’
Among the speakers was globally recognized expert on the ethology of foxes Professor Stephen Harris and Maria Eagle, former UK Minister, who introduced the private members bill to ban fur farming in the UK:
‘Breeding animals for fur is cruel. Civilised society should not tolerate this unnecessary suffering, and I believe politicians will pay due attention to the topic and that the Czech Republic will join the other European countries and have banned these antiquated practices.’
View the presentation ‘Case against Fur Factory Farming’ by Professor Stephen Harris.
Other speakers at the seminar included Dr. Holger Herbrüggen – veterinary inspector in Austria, where fur farming was banned in 2005 – and Inez Staarink, Policy Advisor on Agriculture, Nature, Animals and Food in The Netherlands, who was involved with the parliamentary process of passing the mink farming ban into Dutch law:
‘Vanity as a goal does not justify the suffering and killing of animals.’
Read the presentation ‘Why fur farming is being banned in the Member States’ of Inez Staarink,
According to opinion polls the majority of the Czech and the European public considers killing animals for fur unacceptable. A fur farming ban in Czech Republic would therefore be in line with public interest, according to Lucie Moravcová from Svoboda zvířat, the hosting organization of the seminar:
‘The aim of this seminar is to provide the Czech legislator, the State Veterinary Administration and professional public with the information and experience regarding the approval and implementation of laws banning fur farms in countries where similar legislation already exists.’
The first reading of the bill will take place on the 8th of November. Fur farming is already banned in 8 European countries and 5 more countries are currently having parliamentary debates about fur farming bans.
ESTONIA, 6 OCTOBER 2016 – For the first time in Estonia, local fashion designers stand up to support a ban on fur farms in a campaign run by the animal advocacy organization Loomus. This project is a part of the long-term campaign “I am on the side of animals!”, which supports the ambition to submit a bill to the parliament that would ban fur farming in Estonia.
The campaign includes fashion designers Reet Aus, Margaret Kodusaar, Kalle Aasamäe, Kätlin Kikkas, Perit Muuga, Marilin Sikkal, Tiiu Roosma and Kadri Vahe. The author of the photos is Juta Kübarsepp, designs are made by Tõnis Aaliste.
All the fashion designers, who stood up in the campaign, also joined the international Fur Free Retailer program, in which the participating designers, fashion houses, clothing chains and stores do not produce or sell products made of real fur.
By establishing fur free principles, the Estonian fashion designers join famous high-end brands and store chains such as Armani, Hugo Boss, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Stella McCartney, H&M, Esprit, Lindex, Etnies, O’Neill and others. Altogether about 300 companies across the world have joined the program.
In 2014, a national petition to ban fur farms in Estonia gathered more than 10,000 signatures from the citizens of Estonia. At the end of 2014, Loomus took the signatures and the corresponding memorandum to Riigikogu, the parliament of Estonia. After numerous public discussions and analyses, the Rural Affairs Committee that was supposed to decide the fate of fur farms in September this year, has decided to postpone the decision and ask for an opinion from the government of Estonia.
An international petition to ban fur farms in Estonia has already gathered more than 28,000 signatures.
Today, fur farming is banned in the United Kingdom, Austria, Croatia, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Fur farming is partially banned in Denmark, Belgium, Sweden and New Zealand. According to a survey conducted by TNS Emor, 58% of the Estonian population do not support fur farming.
SARAJEVO, 19 JUNE 2016 – Worldwide citizens are expressing their support for the fur farming ban in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Similar to several other EU members states, the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina decided to ban fur farming on ethical grounds in 2009. The fur farming ban includes a phase-out period of 10 years providing fur farmers with a transitional period to develop a more ethical and sustainable type of business. Currently, however, the law is put at risk due to a proposed amendment that would put the ban completely off the table.
Citizens, nationally and internationally, are organising protests and a petition to urge the government to take a strong stance and keep the widely supported fur farming ban in place. This week the parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina rejected the change of the Act in the second vote on the proposed law amendment. A third voting is yet to take place.
Currently Bosnia and Herzegovina holds about 80 fur farms, on which chinchillas, mink and rabbits are farmed solely for their fur. Animals kept on fur farms are essentially wild animals. Keeping them in small, wire mesh cages causes numerous serious welfare problems which have been extensively documented by scientific research studies. Fur farmers use the cheapest and cruelest killing methods available, including suffocation, electrocution and gassing. More concerning is that the conditions on fur farms in Bosnia and Herzegovina are hardly monitored since there is no policy regarding official inspections.
Even though fur farming is profitable, mainly due to the low animal welfare standards, the industry hardly creates employment opportunities. On an average a fur farm in Bosnia and Herzegovina employs two workers, making the number of jobs a highly insignificant argument to drop the ban. Besides that the use of hazardous chemicals in the fur production process are causing serious health risks for both employees as consumers, as various recent studies have pointed out.
Due to ethical, animal welfare and environmental reasons fur bans are currently debated upon worldwide. It would be wise for the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina to not further invest in such an unstable industry as fur farming, but better yet explore more sustainable types of industries that are profitable on the long-term.