N.S. premier to pitch federal panel on offshore oil, gas exploration

Nova Scotia's premier will tell a federal panel on marine protected areas Friday that there should be room for oil and gas exploration off the province's coast.

Stephen McNeil says he will tell a hearing of the National Advisory Panel on Marine Protected Area Standards in Moncton, N.B., that real jobs and economic opportunities for Nova Scotians are at stake.

Last month, Fisheries Minister Keith Colwell also voiced concerns about the possibility of no fish zones along the province's Eastern Shore, which is the first area along the province's coast being considered for federal designation as a marine protected area.

Colwell also raised the spectre of a negative impact on jobs in a region of lower employment.

The panel is holding a series of meetings and is to make an interim presentation to federal Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc by Aug. 15, and submit a final report to LeBlanc and the Canadian Coast Guard by Sept. 15.