Flemish mink farm denied expansion permit

GAIA blocks an authorization issued by Province of East Flanders

Tuesday, January 20, 2015 — A mink farm located in Beveren-Waas was denied a permit to expand by Flemish Environment Minister Joke Schauvliege (CD&V). The Minister’s decision annulled a 2013 authorization granted by the Province of East Flanders, which GAIA had appealed. "We are particularly pleased at the message sent by the Flemish Environment Minister in refusing this expansion permit" commented GAIA’s President, Michel Vandenbosch. Nevertheless, GAIA continues to call for a complete ban on fur farms in Belgium.

The license currently possessed by the mink farm Truyman in Beveren-Waas is for 16,200 animals and expires on 30 June 2030. In November 2013, despite protests from local residents and GAIA, the company had received permission from the province of East Flanders to raise an additional 10,800 mink, bringing the total number to 27,000 animals.

GAIA had directly appealed against the decision of the Provincial Government. Michel Vandenbosch says: "Mink are wild animals. Imprisoned in metal cages of only 80 x 30 cm² they develop abnormal behaviours, such as obsessive, repetitive movements and self-mutilation. The mortality rate in the young can rise to 20%. Furthermore, it isn’t even proven by the fur farm in Beveren-Waas that it has sufficient capacity to properly store all the bodies of the dead animals. Added to this are the risk of mink escaping, proliferation of insects and vermin, odours, etc.”

Complete ban

The animal rights organisation expressed its relief that Minister Schauvliege refused the expansion permit for the mink farm in Beveren-Waas. GAIA justified its position by referring to a Guidance Note drafted by Flemish Animal Welfare Minister, Ben Weyts (N-VA), providing for a "ban on the creation of new fur farms and on the expansion of existing fur farms."

For its part, GAIA continues to call for a complete ban on fur farming in Belgium. "The Belgian people don’t want these farms," says Michel Vandenbosch. "According to an Ipsos poll from 2012, 86% of Belgians are in favour of a total ban." In Austria, Great Britain and Bulgaria, fur farming is already prohibited, and Croatia has adopted a similar measure providing for a transitional period. Wallonia is also poised to pass such a ban, and the same could soon be the case for the Brussels-Capital Region, which indicated such an intention in its coalition agreement. A proposal to this effect has already been filed.