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Superyachts Reportedly Built with Illegal Teak

Jan 9th 18


Tomorrow kicks off the London Boat Show until January 14, but it has not been without scandal: the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) claims that two of the show’s biggest yacht exhibitors, Sunseeker International and Princess Yachts International, have used illegal Burmese teak from Myanmar for their vessels. 


According to an EIA press release, the two companies together had more than £1 billion worth in forward order books in 2017, with most of the yachts featuring the illegal teak. NHG Timber and Vandercasteele Hout Import, suppliers of wood to Moody Decking and D.A. Watts and Sons, who built decks for Sunseeker and Princess, were reportedly found trading teak in breach of the European Timber Regulation (EUTR).  


The press release reports that UK authorities have confirmed that NHG Timber was found in the breach of the EUTR for trading Burmese teak. This means all firms known to be placing Burmese teak on the UK market are now found in breach and are prohibited from placing further Burmese teak on the market until they can show compliance with the law. Vandercasteele is also reportedly subjected to similar enforcement in Belgium. 


“While the EUTR doesn’t regulate Sunseeker and Princess Yachts, their demand for Burmese teak is helping to drive trade in the UK, and their customers are unwittingly receiving non-compliant wood products,” reads a statement from EIA. 

“Myanmar has acknowledged that combatting illegal logging and the associated criminal trade is a priority in addressing corruption and lack of transparency, but the ongoing demand for Burmese teak by European shipyards such as Sunseeker and Princess Yachts undermines this.” 


“If the companies are unable to source legally traded Burmese teak, then they must make use of readily available legal alternatives,” they added. 


Sunseeker released a press statement asserting that they weren’t aware of any breach of the EUTR. “Sunseeker has not received a notice from any recognized enforcement authority of a breach of the EUTR within the company’s direct or indirect supply chain, relating to the procurement of teak or any other products,” it reads. “Sunseeker is a socially responsible manufacturer and committed to ethical business practice. We regularly undertake supply audits of our teak supply chain to ensure it is responsibly sourced and would never knowingly use teak which is not.” 


They promised to further investigate the procurement of its teak through the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and will take action if warranted. 


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