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DUESSELDORF – Denmark announced a hefty ban on the import of male mink fur late Friday, warning that its is already at risk of a meltdown in its domestic fur industry amid increasing demand by Dutch retailers.

“We are absolutely alert, it’s going to be a crisis,” said Ed Belding, vice-president of the general assembly of the Dordøy industry council, Denmark’s largest and most heavily regulated clothing, gift and clothing supplier of fur products. He added that the ban could affect factory-made and personal-care products.

It means mink fur will be banned from entering Denmark in two stages, from February 17, 2021 and from January 15, 2022. Under the new rules, “the mink registration licence is cancelled and the supply will be restricted to at least six kilos per year.”

But at least one Danish executive insisted that there would still be demand for mink in the current year, at least for sale of Japanese-made clothing, as Japan prepares to become a net exporter of mink.

Customers are “letting us off the hook with sales, but it’s not time to put the dogs out of business”. “In Japan, their four-year-old mink shoots into the sky,” said Jeremy Wolfenbaumer, marketing director at Danish mink clothing maker General Thomas.

Japanese outfitter Camm & Oliver Marine has plants in Tokyo and Heise, an American company. Sales of mink-bodied mink by its Japanese factory are “exceeding the quota”, he said.

In Britain, American Mink, based in Bedford and employing more than 700 people, vowed to cut back on imports of mink for high-end fur and leather goods from Denmark, once it gets a new licence to export to Britain.

The British mink trade will also suffer, with Bernard Leere, chairman of British Mink International, calling on retailers to “make every effort” to limit fur imports.

“I think this restriction will end up hurting British customers,” he told AFP.

As a result, British retailers have so far decided against stocking mink from Denmark, with only the Hennessy Couture, Louis Vuitton and Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy labels selling mink instead.

European animal activist David Hoppen, who has campaigned for decades to stop the import of mink fur from Japan, said no-one would have lost sleep over the Danish ban had it been announced months ago.

“Almost all the bans that have gone before have been weak bans — they’ve been wrong,” he said. “This is worse than they come.”

Japan will be the main target for “superior competition” and presents “a real opportunity” for Canada and other shippers, Hoppen said.

But another prominent Danish scientist said mink fur proved beyond doubt an endangered species that needed protection.

“I believe we can get a quota today to help stop the extinction of the mink,” said Borgo Skovlic, professor emeritus at the National University of Iskandar in eastern Denmark.