Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney has said fur farming of mink will be allowed to continue in Ireland.

He is reversing a decision by the last government to close down the industry on welfare grounds at the end of this month.

Mr Coveney said lots of people are uncomfortable with the industry but it is not that different from intensive farming in other sectors and if he was to close its down, significant compensation would have to be paid to the fur farmers that operate here.

His comments followed the publication of a review into the industry commissioned late last year.

The review recommended that fur farming be allowed to continue under licence and be open to new entrants.

Mr Coveney said, however, that new standards will be introduced for the farming of mink in terms of animal welfare and best practice, and there will be a doubling of departmental veterinary inspections of farms, which will include unannounced inspections, as recommended by the review group.

He also pointed out that there are 62 people employed in the sector, which is worth €5m a year to the Exchequer.

He added that temporary 12-month licences will shortly be issued to the five fur farmers operating here, as all their existing licences are due to run out on 31 December.

That will allow the department to put its new standards and regulations for fur farms in place.

Some 225,000 mink are farmed for their fur on five farms around the country.

Killing of minks is generally carried out by gassing the animals with carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide.

CEO of the ISPCA Noel Griffin said earlier today that the group remains completely opposed to fur farming.

He said it is not correct that animals should be killed just for their fur and holding non-domesticated animals in cages restricts them from their natural behaviours and should not be allowed to continue.