WITH four months to go until this year’s Seawork International commercial boat show, marine firms from the Portsmouth area will be making a big splash at the event.
More than 30 firms have already signed up to the event, now in its 15th year, in the hope of adding to their order books and making a host of useful contacts for the year ahead.
The commercial marine sector, according to event organisers, is in a relative boom time, as the government and organisations bring forward their orders in a bid to create growth during the downturn.
This year’s Seawork International, to be held between May 22 and 24 at the Port of Southampton, will be bigger than ever, with an estimated 600 exhibitors and 60 vessels moored alongside.
Last year the event attracted around 7,000 visitors from around the globe.
Companies from around the world book places at the event, from Australia to Finland and Canada to Madagascar.
The exhibition began 15 years ago, and is put on by Fareham firm Mercator Media.
Its managing director Andrew Webster said: ‘We are very pleased with the progress since the exhibition started.
‘In 1998 we had just over 200 exhibitors and a small number of vessels moored alongside.
‘In 2012, our 15th year, we’re planning to exceed 600 exhibitors and 60 vessels.’
Local exhibitors include McMurdo, Raymarine, and Meercat Workboats.
The event features an Innovations Showcase, with the new products featured going into the innovation awards, presented at the De Vere Grand Harbour hotel.
And, for the first time this year, the event will recognise someone who has been making waves in the sector, by adding a lifetime achievement gong to the innovation award ceremony.
The design of the award is being kept a secret, but it has been made by a sculptor from Hill Head, near Fareham.
One focus of the innovations awards is on those firms which are developing solutions to environmental issues.
For example, off shore wind turbines require almost constant maintenance, and last year a firm won an award for a special gangplank which helps engineers get onto the turbine from a boat, no matter what the sea conditions are like.
Pre-registration is now open for anyone who wants to beat the queues at seawork.com.