Bay Ferries between Maritime ports a vital service, study says

DIGBY, N.S. — The beleaguered Bay of Fundy cargo ferry that operates between Digby, N.S., and Saint John, N.B. is being described as “essential” to the local economy in a joint government-industry study.

The economic impact study, prepared for the Bay of Fundy Transportation Coalition by the Mariport Group Ltd., concludes that the ferry service is worth about $40 million a year to the region.

About 60 percent of fresh fishery exports in the area was transported via the ferry last year, according to the report.

Last year, Bay Ferries, which operate the service, warned it would have to shut down because of rising fuel costs and a drop in tourism and exports. The company said it would have to cancel the Princess of Acadia sailing between the two ports if it didn’t receive help.

Earlier this year, Ottawa and the government of Nova Scotia announced a combined $6 million handout to keep the vital ferry service afloat. The funding only guarantees the service until January of 2009, however.

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