Q-West Boat Builders managing director Myles Fothergill believes the aquaculture industry is a booming business and, in a way, has begun to wash up on Whanganui's shores.
He and his team have just completed a 12-month project to build a 30-metre mussel harvester for MacLab.
The harvester is designed to work in the mussel farm industry to seed the lines and check them as they grow.
It will then harvest and bag up mussels, bringing them back into port for processing.
MacLab representatives, including chief executive Scott Gillanders, joined Fothergill and his team in Whanganui for a number of sea and operational trails this week.
Fothergill said they had followed their philosophy around partnership with the designer, owner and builder to make sure they got the build right the first time.
"The aquaculture industry is a significant growth sector and that features significantly in our future and, in particular, with what we hope will be the upgrade of the Whanganui port."
Fothergill hoped the upgrade to the port would mean Q-West Boat Builders would be able to undertake significantly more work with new builds and be able to develop a substantial refit business.
"On the back of the sad news that Mars Petcare is planning to close its factory, if they can get the port upgrade off the ground then they begin to get major growth within the marine industry.
"The marine industry is a $1.8 billion industry and the two largest sectors of that are commercial workboats, which we do, and then refit which we also do.
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"They're both significant growth sectors as well so Whanganui's poised to benefit hugely out of what we're doing."
The company is also building a 24-metre quad engine passenger catamaran for Whale Watch Kaikoura which Fothergill hopes to complete in September 2020.
Q-West has previously built three 34-metre ferries for Fullers in Auckland.
The mussel boat will be berthed at Whanganui's port until the end of the week when it will travel to MacLab's headquarters in Nelson.