Blenheim-based company Cloudy Bay Clams wants to use Whanganui's port as a base for harvesting shellfish from the Foxton coast, operations manager Hadleigh Galt says.

Cloudy Bay Clams has a quota of 2000 tonnes of shellfish to harvest in seas that stretch 26km north and south of the Manawatu River bar at Foxton. It wants to start harvesting them as soon as possible, using a 15m boat manned by two to six people, and a hydraulic dredge.

The company's head office is in Blenheim. It has made one day-trip attempt at the Foxton harvest, leaving from Port Underwood near Picton. But Mr Galt said the seas of Cook Strait can be a major obstacle.

And shellfish harvested at Foxton then have to be trucked to the company's processing facility at Lake Grassmere, near Seddon. Earthquakes there have held up processing and transporting the product.

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Mr Galt is looking to have a North Island base. He has heard about developments at Whanganui's port, and said that could be convenient.

"We would like to expand, and explore the opportunities around the port area."

The four species of shellfish harvested off Foxton are tuatua, diamond shell, moon shell and storm clam. They are in water 1.5 to 8m deep, with tuatua closest to shore.

They aren't species usually sold in shops, and are more likely to be found on restaurant menus.

Cloudy Bay Clams also harvests shellfish at Pegasus Bay near Christchurch and Cloudy Bay near Blenheim. The shellfish are sold in New Zealand and exported, and have the Friend of the Sea sustainability mark.

The company is owned by Isaac and Kerry Piper