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Marine industry offers boats for watery New Orleans

SEPT. 3 — Boating-related businesses, organizations and clubs from all over the country have donated boats and other marine equipment to help facilitate search-and-rescue efforts in the Gulf Coast Region.

The National Marine Manufacturers Association on Wednesday issued an “action alert” to its members in response to an appeal from the Louisiana governor’s office calling for boats to be used in search-and-rescue efforts. In the first day, the association says it fielded some 100 responses.

“So many companies have come forward to offer donations,” John Goodwin, public relations manager for NMMA’s government relations office in Washington, D.C., says in an e-mail. “Manufacturers of all sizes and products have come forward, from small accessory manufacturers to large boatbuilders, including generator and battery manufacturers, engine manufacturers, and radio and communications equipment manufacturers. All segments of the industry have contacted us with offers.”

NMMA is collecting offers from member companies and passing them along to Louisiana Fish and Wildlife, which then works with the participating companies to arrange for delivery of the donated boats and products. Goodwin says NMMA will continue to help coordinate donations for as long as needed.

Among the many companies that have made donations is Zodiac of North America, which shipped 12 boats to the region as well as teams to provide assistance for relief efforts. Brunswick Corp.’s Mercury Marine engine subsidiary and Sea Pro boat company responded by shipping more than $200,000 in boats and engines to New Orleans. Sundance Boats, a Georgia-based manufacturer of shallow-draft, flat-bottom skiffs and bay boats, donated four boats to the relief effort.

“This is a disaster that is affecting millions,” NMMA’s vice president of government relations, Monita Fontaine, says in an e-mail. “It is important that all Americans pitch in to help out in any way they can — from the largest corporations to individuals. At this point, rescue workers need boats and marine equipment. The industry is in a position to help fill those needs. The response from the industry has been, and continues to be, extremely generous.”

Jason Fell