The public is being asked to weigh in on the fur trade, as the government considers a potential ban on sales across the UK.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has launched a call for evidence amid plans for tighter animal welfare standards following Brexit. The consultation will consider the social and economic impacts of fur sales, both in the UK and overseas.
It is understood that the UK could introduce an outright ban depending on the feedback it receives.
The UK was the first country in Europe to ban fur farming in 2000, and has introduced strict rules prohibiting the import of skin and fur products from commercial seal hunting and domestic cats and dogs. However, the sale of other furs are still legal in the UK. Carrie Symonds, Boris Johnson’s wife, has described anyone who buys fur as “really sick”.
The government has been been mulling tougher rules after Brexit, given the UK is no longer bound by the EU’s single market rules that blocked any individual country from taking a unilateral stance on fur trading.
“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,” said the environment secretary, George Eustice.
“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.”
Any new policy will only cover company sales, and will not cover private sales between individuals.
Hundreds of fashion designers and brands – including Coach, Giorgio Armani, Gucci, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren and Versace – have already stopped using fur, according to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta).
However, the British Fur Alliance has argued that natural fur is an antidote to environmentally damaging fast fashion, and should not be banned if it is ethically sourced.