Superyachts Reportedly Built with Illegal Teak

9 January 2018

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, SunseekerInternational and Princess Yachts International, have used illegal Burmese teakfrom Myanmar for their vessels.

According to an EIApress release, the two companies together had more than £1 billion worth inforward order books in 2017, with most of the yachts featuring the illegalteak. NHG Timber and Vandercasteele Hout Import, suppliers of wood to MoodyDecking 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 confirmedthat 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 nowfound in breach and are prohibited from placing further Burmese teak on themarket until they can show compliance with the law. Vandercasteele is alsoreportedly subjected to similar enforcement in Belgium.

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

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

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

Sunseeker released a press statement asserting that theyweren’t aware of any breach of the EUTR. “Sunseeker has not received a noticefrom any recognized enforcement authority of a breach of the EUTR within thecompany’s direct or indirect supply chain, relating to the procurement of teakor any other products,” it reads. “Sunseeker is a socially responsiblemanufacturer and committed to ethical business practice. We regularly undertakesupply audits of our teak supply chain to ensure it is responsibly sourced andwould never knowingly use teak which is not.”

They promised to further investigate the procurement of itsteak through the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy andwill take action if warranted.