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UK government launch ‘call for evidence’ on the fur trade

By Danielle Wightman-Stone

1 Jun 2021

The government has launched a formal ‘call for evidence’ asking for the fashion industry and general public to give evidence on the fur trade in the UK, to help “inform future government policy”.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is encouraging the public, fashion industry and businesses to contribute and share their views towards the fur trade, as the government considers banning the import and sale of animal fur.

The ‘call for evidence’ has been launched jointly alongside the Scottish and Welsh governments, as part of plans to tighten animal welfare standards following Brexit. The review will ask for views surrounding animal welfare as well as the social and economic impacts associated with the trade, both on our shores and overseas.

Environment secretary George Eustice said in a statement: “We already have some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world and as an independent nation we are now able to re-examine some of our animal welfare laws, including the import of fur for use in fashion products.

“The views, data and case studies we receive will be vital to helping us inform future government policy in this area, including by better understanding the trade both at home and abroad.”

The call for evidence concerns the commercial trade in fur only and does not focus on non-commercial, private activity, such as transactions and exchanges between private individuals.

Fur farming has been banned in England and Wales since 2000 and since 2002 in Scotland. Strict rules are already in place for certain skin and fur products, including from commercial seal hunts and domestic cats and dogs, prohibiting them from being imported into the UK.

Humane Society International/UK welcomes government review on the fur trade

Animal protection charity, Humane Society International/UK, said that it “warmly welcomes” the governments ‘call for evidence’ and is encouraging the British public to “take this opportunity and make their voices heard”.

Claire Bass, executive director for Humane Society International/UK, said: “We welcome Defra’s Call for Evidence as a significant milestone in our #FurFreeBritain campaign and hopefully the first concrete step towards banning the sale of cruel fur in the UK.

“Our latest opinion poll confirms what previous polls have consistently shown, that the majority of Brits want nothing to do with the cruelty of fur farming and trapping and support a ban on fur being imported and sold here.”

The charity also released new research showing that 72 percent of the UK public support a fur import and sales ban, including 52 percent who responded that they “strongly support” a ban. While 12 percent said that they were opposed to a ban, 14 percent were neutral and 3 percent answered that they did not know.

The 2021 Yonder opinion poll, commissioned by Humane Society International/UK added that the strongest support came from Wales, with 82 percent public support for a ban, while only 6 percent of people opposed.

While fur farming has been banned across Britain since 2003, the UK has imported more than 800 million pounds worth of animal fur from countries including Finland, China, France and Poland, where the Humane Society International/UK states that animals can experience terrible suffering and mental distress on fur farms.

Bass, added: “This is an important opportunity for both individual consumers and fashion businesses to let the government know that fur is firmly out of fashion in the UK. As the government defines the UK as a new independent nation in trade, it’s critical that we use this moment to stop bankrolling cruel industries overseas – we banned fur farming here because it was too cruel so we should not be paying people overseas to incarcerate animals for their whole lives in tiny cages all for a bobble hat or hood trim.

“When the selling stops the suffering stops too, and we are hopeful that this Call for Evidence will give Government everything it needs to move forward confidently with a ban.”