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December 18, 2012

Historic Dutch Ban on Cruel Mink Fur Farming Welcomed by HSI

Humane Society International

  • Mink are farmed for their fur. John Pitcher/iStock

Update, 16th December 2016: The Dutch Supreme Court has definitively upheld the ban on mink production following a series of legal challenges brought by the fur industry. The mink breeders argued that the legislation constituted an infringement of their rights of ownership under the European Convention on Human Rights. The Court, however, ruled that there was a reasonable balance between the protection of the fundamental rights of the mink breeders and the public good that is served by the law. The legislation is based on the principle that it is ethically unacceptable for animals to be killed for the purposes of fur production. Although the ban entered into force on 15th January 2013, existing mink producers were granted a lengthy phase-out period was agreed to allow them to earn back their investments. From 1st January 2024, mink farming will be completely prohibited in the Netherlands.

THE HAGUE, The Netherlands—Humane Society International applauds the Dutch Senate for passing historic legislation that will ban the farming of mink for fur in the Netherlands starting in 2024. The Netherlands is currently the third largest mink producer in the world. With fur farming of fox and chinchilla already banned in the Netherlands, this new legislation will ensure that all fur farming will be prohibited from 2024.

“This significant decision will prevent the suffering of millions of fur-bearing animals in the future,” said Joanna Swabe, HSI EU director. “It is truly inspiring that the majority of the Dutch Senate has not allowed economics to prevail over ethics, recognising that it is unacceptable and cruel to keep animals in small, wire cages to be killed for their fur. On behalf of Humane Society International, I sincerely thank the Socialist Party (SP) and Labour Party (PvdA) MPs who initiated this legislation and warmly congratulate our Fur Free Alliance colleagues, Bont voor Dieren, for their long and hard-fought campaign to eliminate fur farming in the Netherlands.”

Fox and chinchilla fur farming were banned in the Netherlands on ethical and animal welfare grounds, in 1995 and 1997 respectively. Despite a Ministerial proposal in 2001 to ban mink farming, legislation has taken many years to achieve. A bill first tabled in 2006 underwent various revisions and bounced back and forth unresolved between the Parliament and Senate for years. It was finally amended to allow mink breeders to continue with fur production until a phase-out date of 2024. The Parliament voted in favour of this in June 2010, and the Senate’s endorsement today means the ban can now be passed into law. The final step is sign-off by the relevant Dutch Minister and the Queen, which HSI hopes will happen as soon as possible.

In the last decade, the Dutch mink farming industry has expanded exponentially with production growing from 3 million to an estimated 6 million mink pelts per year. There are currently 170 mink farms operating in the Netherlands. Mink, who are naturally inquisitive, semi-aquatic, energetic and intelligent wild animals, are typically kept in environmentally barren, wire cages measuring little more than the length of a human arm. In the wild, these animals would enjoy environmentally rich riverbank territories of up to four kilometres. Stereotypical behaviour and self-mutilation are common signs of stress in fur-farmed animals.

HSI urges the Dutch government to ensure swift implementation of the mink farming ban, and hopes that other EU Member States will take note of and be inspired by the ethically progressive Dutch decision to ban mink fur farming and take the necessary steps to also eradicate this inhumane industry in their countries too.

Fur farming has also been banned across the United Kingdom on ethical grounds since 2003, and Austria and Croatia have introduced similar prohibitions.


Media contact: Wendy Higgins (English language), +44 (0)7989 972 423, whiggins@hsi.org
Media contact: Joanna Swabe (also Dutch language), +31 651 317 004, jswabe@hsi.org

Humane Society International and its partner organizations together constitute one of the world’s largest animal protection organizations. For more than 20 years, HSI has been working for the protection of all animals through the use of science, advocacy, education and hands on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwideat—on the Web at hsi.org.

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