Scandal of Luxury Yachts Built in the UK with Illegitimate Burmese Teak

LONDON: 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.

EIA research reveals that Burmese teak 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 Burmese teak decks.

NHG Timber and Belgian firm Vandercasteele Hout Import are suppliers of Burmese 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 Burmese teak, a decision meaning that all firms known to be placing Burmese 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 Burmese 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 a 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 Burmese 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 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.”

The EUTR only regulates the act of first placement of timber. Regulated timber companies providing teak to the Princess and Sunseeker yacht supply chains include:

  • NHG Timber (UK)
  • Vandercasteele Hout Import (Belgium)

Each of these companies has been found in breach of the EUTR.

Decking companies supplying to the Princess and Sunseeker yacht supply chains are:

  • Moody Decking (UK)
  • D.A. Watts & Sons (UK)

These companies are not regulated by the EUTR.

 

MEDIA CONTACTS

  • Forests Campaigner Peter Cooper via petercooper[at]eia-international.org
  • Press & Communications Officer Paul Newman via paulnewman[at]eia-international.org or +44 20 7354 7983

View the original press release HERE.

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