British Marine and environmental charity, the Environment Investigation Agency (EIA), are to meet to discuss teak compliance issues.
The EIA alleges that some UK boat builders are using Burmese teak that has been imported illegally in breach of the European Union Timber Regulation.
However Howard Pridding, British Marine CEO says it is a very complex issue and the boatbuilders are not contravening any regulations. In addition, focusing on the boatbuilders is damaging the marine industry.
The EIA believes all teak from Burma has been imported illegally saying none of the importers can provide the correct paperwork, a view an EU expert group agrees with.
Minutes of its last meeting state that documents do not provide operators with sufficient information as regards the actual origin of the timber to enable them to carry out a full risk assessment and verification.
Neil Wason of Marine Hardwoods agrees.
He says he closed his Yangon offices two years’ ago after concluding Burmese teak was both unsustainable and illegal to import into the EU.
“The issuing of secret harvesting licenses with unspecified terms to favoured contractors, together with the largest organised timber smuggling operation in the world has already devastated Myanmars last remaining natural teak forests,” he said.
“Marine Hardwoods now only imports teak which comes with a chain of custody from stump to shipyard.”
Mr Pridding says, “This is a very complex matter.”
“Following conversations with those British Marine member companies that have been cited in the EIA press releases, I am reassured that they are all acting socially responsible and are committed to ethical business practices.
“They continue to work closely with their supply chain companies and heed Government advice to do all that they can, given the complexity of the issues to ensure that they are not contravening regulation.”