By Alvin Kor, Natalie Wong & Rainie Lam
The current situation and development of the fur trade
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Fur is probably one the most commonly used farbics in fashion: more than 50 million animals are killed for use in fashion every year. The origin of fur trade was established in the early modern period. It was stimulated in Siberia, North America and South Shetland. Until now, even though animal rights organizations oppose the fur trade, the international fur trade profits are still increasing every year. Furthermore, there is recent news about popular rabbit charms made of real rabbit fur. The way animals are farmed for fur is problematic and the general public is not aware.
Starting from 2011, global fur sales increased vigorously from 15.6 billion to 35.8 billion in 2013, and grew gradually to 40 billion in 2015. People believe that China’s corruption crackdown has slowed down the trade, but the International Fur Federation still expects that it will remain at high production levels in Europe and North America in 2016.
Foxes, minks and seals are the main sources for making fur. According to the data from Respect for Animals, approximately 70 million minks were killed worldwide between 2014-2015, which means two minks were killed every second. European countries are responsible for almost half of all the minks bred and killed. But still, China ranks the first in killing the most number of minks in 2014-2015, accounting for 20 billion minks. As for foxes, Finland comes in first place for killing 2.5 million foxes in 2015. Canada, with harp and grey seal hunts, is the only country where the number of seals hunted decreased from 54,600 to 35,304, since sealing is tightly regulated and monitored in Canada. Unsurprisingly, China is in first place for killing the most animals for use in fashion in the past year, followed by Denmark and Poland.
How many animals does it take to make one fur coat?
Numerous animals die for fur trim in order to make a single fur coat. The number of animals that die or suffer depends on the size of the animal, style and size of the garment. Respect for Animals has estimated the number of animals needed to make a fur coat. For larger animals, including seals and foxes, six and ten of them are needed respectively, while 200 squirrels may die in the coat-making process, suggesting that the smaller the animal, the more they suffer.
Measures taken and their effectiveness
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In 1999, the House of Representatives of the European Union adopted a resolution to alleviate the problems brought by fur farming and to leave their member states the possibility of a ban on fur farming. The following year, the United Kingdom was the first country to ban fur farming, leading the rest of the EU members to further regulate fur farming. Austria also banned fur farming in 2004. Some countries chose to slowly phase out fur farming or to ban a particular kind of animal fur. Aside from the efforts of the EU, New Zealand banned the import of minks in 2014 and Sao Paolo banned the keeping and breeding of fur animals in 2015, showing more and more countries are concerned about fur business.
However, some countries such as Finland and the Netherlands, which rely heavily on this profitable business, have not put any ban or stricter policy on the industry, leading to limited progress for the resolution. Despite the ban implemented by EU members, fur production increased by 65 per cent from 2005 to 2015, according to a Fur Europe annual report published in 2015.