BIDDEFORD — A boat builder is hiring back workers idled by the weak economy to build boats for Japanese fishermen who were hurt by the tsunami.

Operation Blessing International helped to facilitate the order for General Marine Inc. of Biddeford on behalf of two fishing Japanese guilds that together lost 5,000 boats.

General Marine, which makes workboats and recreational boats, is custom-making hulls that are unlike anything used by U.S. fishermen. The 19-foot boats are versatile enough to drag nets to catch fish or to be used to tend to oyster and seaweed farms.

Owner Stacey Raymond said the order will enable the company to hire back six to eight workers. All told, the order calls for production of 20 boats.

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