Boating in the Big Easy: New Zealand commercial marine in the USA

Boating in the Big Easy - New Orlean's ocean

27 June 2018

Scott Wentworth / Business Development Manager / North America

Each November the commercial marine industry heads to New Orleans for 4 days of networking, selling and sailing at the International Workboat Show. While the temptations of beignets and jambalaya are ever present, a group of New Zealand companies batten down the hatches and get to work, where they do an exceptional job of representing New Zealand as a leader in marine technology. 

With over 13,000 exhibitors and attendees, representing 47 states and 23 countries, it is the place to be for anyone operating in, or considering the US commercial industry. As we walked around last year’s show we noticed one major issue coming through again and again. This is (without surprise) the Jones Act, still making waves for international companies.

So what is the Jones Act? In a nutshell, the Jones Act restricts non-US built boats being used within the US. This means that the boat must be constructed in the US, as well as owned and crewed by a US citizen or permanent resident to work in a commercial capacity. While the 100-year-old Jones Act is yet to sink it is still an integral part of US maritime commerce and though it is a barrier to overcome, it is not a brick wall.

For example after learning of the Jones Act, New Zealand Company Naiad changed up their model by partnering with a US boat manufactures. Now Naiad sells their designs to their partner who then builds the boats. This partnership is a win for all, removing the need for costly shipping and hefty import fees.

Players like Hamilton Jet, Sealegs and Ocean Max are overcoming the stringent regulatory climate and the mighty expanse of ocean between the two nations to become major players in the industry. We spoke to a number of these companies at the last Workboat Show to gauge more insight into New Zealand commercial marine in the USA, why our companies go to this show and export essentials to keep in mind when playing in this space.

Check out these videos here:

New Zealand Marine in the USA:

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Why go to the International Workboat Show:

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Must-know expert essentials for the US commercial marine industry:

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