Luxury yachts built in the UK with illegitimate Myanmar teak: EIA


A Myanmar woman takes off bark from teak logs for firewood at a timber area on the outskirts of Yangon. Photo: Nyein Chan Naing/EPA

As the London Boat Show opens this week (10-14 January) the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) warned that two of the biggest exhibitors have been building yachts for the luxury market with illegitimate teak from Myanmar.

According to an EIA statement, EIA research reveals that Myanmar teak is entering the supply chains of the UK’s two largest yacht builders, Sunseeker International and Princess Yachts International, was traded in breach of the European Union Timber Regulation (EUTR).

The EUTR has been in force since 2013 to combat illegal logging and the associated trade in stolen timber.

Sunseeker and Princess Yachts are both exhibiting at the London Boat Show and were reported in 2017 as having forward order books jointly worth more than £1billion; an overwhelming majority of these vessels will have Myanmar teak decks.

NHG Timber and Belgian firm Vandercasteele Hout Import are suppliers of Myanmar teak to the Sunseeker and Princess Yachts supply chains. The companies Moody Decking and D.A. Watts & Sons use this teak to produce decks for Sunseeker and Princess Yachts.

UK authorities have confirmed that NHG Timber has been found in breach of the EUTR for the trading of Myanmar teak, a decision meaning that all firms known to be placing Myanmar teak on the UK market have now been found in breach.

This action was taken by the UK EUTR competent authority – Regulatory Delivery at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – following the submission of cases by EIA and prohibits any of the firms from placing further Myanmar teak on the market until they can show compliance with the law. Vandercasteele has also been found to be trading in breach of the EUTR and subjected to similar enforcement in Belgium following the submission of a case by EIA.

In the statement, EIA said: “Both Sunseeker and Princess Yachts contract Moody Decking and D.A. Watts & Sons to provide teak decking for their yachts. It appears that teak on these yachts traded since the EUTR came into force has been traded illegitimately. While the EUTR doesn’t regulate Sunseeker and Princess Yachts, their demand for Myanmar teak is helping to drive trade in the UK, and their customers are unwittingly receiving non-compliant wood products.

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 Myanmar teak by European shipyards such as Sunseeker and Princess Yachts undermines this.

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

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