Fur trade thrives despite protests

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Britain is the biggest trader of fur in the world and plays a major role in the European trade in seal fur. According to the British Fur Trade Association (BFTA) the UK trade in animal furs is worth between £400m and £500m a year.

Despite the attention of animals rights protesters, the trade body says the animal fur industry is thriving, with sales of fur garments and accessories up 30 per cent last year.

The most popular furs sold are mink, fox and rabbit; seal fur is not sold by fashion retailers in Britain. However, seal products worth about £300,000 a year are imported into Britain and exported to customers around the world. A spokesman for the BFTA said: "A number of our members buy sealskin at international markets. Seals are a sustainable resource and harvesting is carried out under strict regulation which is monitored by the Canadian government and vets." He added: "There is virtually no market for sealskin products in the UK."

The International Fund for Animal Welfare has discovered seal penises on sale as traditional Chinese medicine, which prizes them as aphrodisiacs.