The boatbuilding sector's shipshape

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Britain's manufacturing industry may be flat on its back and its export markets in the doldrums but at least one sector is riding the crest of a wave.

The country's boat builders are booming according to the British Marine Federation, which today reports that revenues increased by 5 per cent last year to £1.84bn while exports were up an even healthier 10 per cent to £794m.

The figures, released to coincide with the start of the Schroders London Boat Show, also reveal that employment is up 5 per cent with more than 30,000 people now employed by 4,500 firms specialising in everything from new and second-hand leisure boats to sailing holidays, chandlery, insurance and marine electronics.

Despite economic slowdown in Europe and the weakness of the dollar, which makes it more difficult to sell into the America, the federation said that exports to these two crucial markets were worth £569m alone last year.

However, John Clarke, the federation's chief executive, added a warning note, urging ministers not to undermine the domestic marine market with more red tape. "It is essential that government avoids over-regulation, provides support on improving our competitiveness, improves the planning system to aid growth and helps us to promote waterways tourism and the rural economy," said Mr Clarke.