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
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,”
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.