: Mink

Greek Ministry of Culture: Fur is not Cultural Heritage

GREECE, 18 MAY 2018 – The Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports has rejected a proposal of the Greek fur industry to include fur production in Greece’s National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

The submission by the Hellenic Fur Federation was dismissed unanimously by the ministry’s Directorate of Modern Cultural Assets and Intangible Cultural Heritage, stating that fur production is not in line with UNESCO’s sustainable development goals and has an exclusively commercial objective:

“This activity, which is based on the killing of animals exclusively for the exploitation of their fur, is not compatible with sustainable development, which is a necessary requirement for a practice to be considered within the scope of the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage UNESCO (2003).”

In 2016, the Hellenic Fur Federation submitted the proposal to include fur production in the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage with a view to applying for UNESCO “intangible heritage” status, which, if approved, would result in the unjust promotion and protection of fur production as a heritage craft.

The dismissal follows another rejection of a cunning fur lobby strategy that was introduced recently in Kastoria – the center of the Greek fur industry – a school program entitled “Fur: Environment and Culture”. The program, that was introduced by the Regional Directorate of Primary Education in Kastoria, was quickly inactivated by the Greek Ministry of Education.

Despite the rejection of the industry’s claim that fur production is cultural heritage, teachers and MP’s in Kastoria continue to blatantly and indefensibly present the fur industry as a cultural asset and an example of ‘sustainable development’. Furthermore, the Hellenic Fur Federation wrongfully presents the local fur industry as an invaluable economical sector for the region. On the contrary, the Russian demand for Kastorian fur, which is the largest market for Kastorian fur exporters, has plummeted in recent years, causing high unemployment numbers.  The fact is that the fur industry is an economically, highly unstable industry that is banned in more and more countries worldwide.

International organisations urge Czech Senate to end fur farming

16 JULY 2017, PRAGUE – This week 40 animal protection organisations worldwide co-signed a letter to call upon the Czech Senate to end fur farming.

The letter was handed over by Fur Free Alliance member organisation Svoboda Zvirat to Mr. Jaroslav Müllner, head of the secretariat of the President of the Senate, and urges the senators to do the right thing for animal welfare and implement a ban fur farming ban at their earliest opportunity:

“Legislation to prohibit fur farming is becoming increasingly widespread in Europe. The inherent cruelty of fur farming and the ethical concerns of a vast majority of the population have led many countries to close down fur farms in recent years. We are very pleased that the Czech Republic is at the forefront of that movement in Europe, as it considers prohibiting the cruel practice of fur farming.“

The letter will be distributed to all members of the Senate. Read the full letter here.

czech letter FOTO copy

The ban on fur farming in the Czech Republic is widely supported by the Czech population. A recent opinion poll showed that 83% of the Czech population is in favor of the ban and 85% does not buy fur products. Furthermore, nearly 46 000 Czech citizens signed a recent petition – and an extra 20 000 signed an electronic appeal – to express their support for a fur farming ban in the Czech Republic.

 

New bill to ban fur farming in Estonia

ESTONIA, 6 MARCH 2017 – In February a legislative draft to ban fur farming in Estonia was proposed by member of parliament Barbi Pilvre (Social Democrats) . The proposed ban includes a ten-year changeover period for fur farmers to transition to a more sustainable industry.

The draft that was initiated by 14 parliament members from different factions (SDE, REF, KE) would end fur farming in Estonia by 1 January 2028.

According to Pilvre, the 10-year phase-out period offers sufficient time for the less than hundred people currently employed by the industry to retrain for a new profession and find other jobs.

Wild mink

In Estonia there are four mink and fox farms and about 27 chinchilla farms. A total of 200 000 animals are killed annually. 

According to the latest public opinion survey by Kantar Emor, 69% of the Estonian people do not support raising and killing animals on farms for fur.

Japan makes an end to fur farming

JAPAN, 29 NOVEMBER 2016 – Mink fur farming in Japan has come to a definite end now that the country’s last remaining fur farm in Niigata has closed its doors. In recent years the Otsuka mink farm was repeatedly reported by Animal Rights Center Japan for operating without a license and violating the Japanese Invasive Alien Species Act of 2006. Now the farm has ended its operations, Japan joins a growing number of countries that are leaving fur farming behind.

Japanese mink farm (2014)

Japanese mink farm (2014)

Since the Invasive Alien Species Act in 2006 it became illegal to build new mink fur farms in Japan. The damage to biodiversity caused by escaped American mink from fur farms had become a significant problem in preceding years. In reaction, the 2006 Invasive Alien Species Act restricts the breeding of the non-native species American mink, raccoon and coypu to but a few purposes – as science and education. According to the Act, mink farms built prior to 2006 are allowed to continue their operations under license compliance. The closure of the Otsuka mink farm therefore puts a downright end to Japanese mink fur production. Since the Otsuka farm was the only remaining fur farm in Japan, the country’s fur production has now ended entirely.

In recent years the unlicensed fur farm in Niigata had received multiple warnings of the Ministry of Environment for violating both the Invasive Alien Species Act and the Act on Welfare and Management of Animals. In 2015, after observing serious welfare issues at the Otsuka farm and spotting escaped mink, Animal Rights Center Japan again reported the unlicensed illegal activity of the farm. A new warning, this time, made the mink farmer decide to end its operations. According to the farmer, due to the decreased consumer demand and the high building costs to meet the licensing requirements his farm was no longer economically viable.

The popularity of fur clothing has significantly decreased in Japan due to a growing consumer demand for more ethically manufactured products. Since its peak in 2006 fur import figures have dropped a staggering 80% in Japan.

The end of Japanese fur production is a huge victory for animals and in line with international developments. Due to ethical, environmental and welfare concerns an increasing number of countries are turning their back on fur farming. Since 2000 eight European countries have decided to outright ban fur farming and currently three more countries in Europe are having parliamentary debates to end fur farming. Fur farming bans are in line with the public interest since the majority of society opposes the breeding and killing of animals for a non-essential luxury item as fur.

 

 

 

 

Fur farming ban in Czech supported by Chamber in first reading

PRAGUE, 10 NOVEMBER 2016 – Fur farming will no longer be allowed in the Czech Republic by 2019 according to a bill that the Chamber of Deputies passed in first reading yesterday. The amendment prohibits the breeding and killing of animals solely or primarily for the purpose of fur and was submitted by about one fourth of the members of the 200-seat Chamber. They say the conditions at fur farms meet the given standards but they do not meet the needs of wild animals.

Fur farm in Czech Republic (2012)

Fur farm in Czech Republic (2012)

Nine fur farms operate in the country, breeding mostly minks and foxes. Approximately 20,000 animals are killed at the farms a year. The number of farms has been declining for a long time. Lucie Moravcová, head of Fur Free Alliance member organization Svoboda Zvířat, says:

“Today’s vote is a huge step towards victory for minks and foxes, which are bred in the Czech Republic and cruelly killed just for fashion items. Although it is not yet won, we are very happy with the outcome of today’s vote and thank all members who supported this significant step forward for the protection of animals. There is no reason to continue to allow fur farming – the public wants fur farming to be banned and the demand for fur products is negligible.”

The bill was submitted in the spring of this year by a group of 50 deputies headed by Chairman of the Committee on the Environment Robin Böhnisch. Operators can apply for financial compensation for having closed down their fur farms, but the state need not compensate them. Opponents of the bill say the ban on fur farms may lead to the establishment of illegal fur farms that will not be supervised by the State Veterinary Administration Authority. Even though illegal fur farms have not been reported to emerge as a problem caused by fur farming bans in other European countries. The bill will be discussed in the lower house agricultural and environmental committees now.

Read more about fur farming bans.

 

 

High level of violations revealed on Norwegian fur farms

OSLO, 27 OCTOBER 2016 – Norwegian fur farms are facing a highly uncertain future after repeated reports of negligence and injured animals in recent years. The Norwegian Food Safety Authority (Mattilsynet) states their inspectors were shocked by high level of violations and injuries on Norwegian fur farms during recent inspections. This week Norwegian Fur Free Alliance member NOAH delivered a petition to the Ministry of Agriculture of 143000 signatures of Norwegians that favour a phasing-out of fur farms in Norway.

Injured mink

Now state regulators have found more suffering minks, and say it’s difficult to secure animal welfare at the farms. Torunn Knævelsrud, chief of the animal welfare division at the Norwegian Food Safety Authority, says:

‘When there’s been so much attention paid to the injured animals that have been found, it’s sad that we continue to uncover so many serious cases.’

One mink nearly skinned itself alive
New figures from the Norwegian Food Safety Authority show violations in nearly half of the inspections conducted, despite all the harsh criticism that’s been directed at the industry not only from animal rights activists but also from government officials and Members of Parliament. Many of the violations are technical in nature, but inspectors remain shocked by the animal injuries and neglect they continue to find.

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that five recent cases highlight “serious negligence” on the part of the fur farmers involved. One of them, located in Rogaland County, was fined NOK 30,000 after several of his caged minks were found with such large open sores that they had to be put to death at the scene.

According to the inspectors’ report obtained by NRK, the Rogaland fur farmer was charged with a lack of supervision of his animals, including one that had crawled into a plastic pipe and all but skinned itself alive in its efforts to free itself. “You had not seen that this mink was stuck in a pipe before Mattilsynet came for inspection, even though the extent of the injuries indicate that it had been stuck for many days,” wrote the inspector:

“We also point out that we found several of your animals with extensive sores that hadn’t been attended to (…) you have not followed up on your sick and injured animals in a good manner (…) you have shown a lack of empathy.”

The fur farmer denies he’s guilty of cruelty to animals and his attorney told NRK he will likely appeal the fine.

Fur farmers on the defensive

The fur farmers’ trade association and lobbying group, Pelsdyralslaget, also defends its members, claiming that many farmers have improved their practices and that most violations involve “technical deficiencies.” The group’s communications chief, Guri Wormdal, argues that animal welfare is no worse within fur farming than other farming operations. “We are also inspected the most often by Mattilsynet,” Wormdal told NRK.

The fur industry has been given many chances to reform and improve operations, and major state reviews have been undertaken, but now its fate is more uncertain than ever.

The state agriculture ministry is due to deliver its assessment to Parliament this fall, which is expected to determine whether the ministry will allow yet another chance for “sustainable development” or order a phase-out over the next several years. Many politicians, including several from the government parties, are already supporting the latter option. The opposition Labour Party has also supported a phase-out of the controversial industry.