For perhaps a couple of decades now governments in Southeast Asia, and the Australian Government have been sinking or otherwise destroying boats seized because of alleged people smuggling and illegal fishing activities. The motive behind this action seems to have been to deny perpetrators the opportunity to reuse these vessels for unlawful purposes.

Most of these boats originate from Indonesia and are made from high quality Indonesian or Malaysian hardwood timber. Some contain teak.

To their credit the Malaysian Government has recently permitted confiscated boats to be disassembled, rather than being sunk at sea or burnt, and the timber to be recycled. The environmental benefits of such a progressive policy are obvious. Valuable tropical timber can be reused, carbon can continue to be stored to assist in ameliorating climate change and there is a bit less pressure on tropical forests to supply timber. So it’s a good outcome for tropical trees.

It will now be important to find commercially attractive domestic and potentially export markets for the timber reclaimed from these confiscated boats. Work to this end has been initiated.