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One-in-five jobs in Nova Scotia are connected to the ocean

More than 300 companies are doing oceans-sector business in Nova Scotia, including more than 60 innovators of new, high-tech products and services. 

Industries involved in our ocean economy

The oceans industry in Nova Scotia is diverse, providing goods and services including:

  • oceans technology
  • fisheries and aquaculture
  • tourism
  • boatbuilding
  • shipbuilding
  • offshore oil and gas
  • ocean observation
  • transportation
  • marine-centric defence and security
  • life sciences
  • energy

Leading technologies

Within the industry, there’s a strong technological sector with a broad and diverse range of products and services. Many of these companies are pioneers in:

  • Underwater acoustics, sensing and imaging
  • Marine communication and navigation
  • Enhanced engineering and environmental services

Growth technologies

Converging of multiple technologies are driving innovative oceans companies to new depths including:

  • Wireless networks and sensors
  • Robotics and autonomous vehicles
  • Informatics and artificial intelligence

Do business with the world

The ocean economy is a key source of food, energy, minerals, health, leisure, and transport upon which hundreds of millions of people depend. OECD values the ocean economy's contribution in 2010 very conservatively at USD 1.5 trillion, and projects growth to $3 trillion by 2030. The Nova Scotian oceans industry is export-driven, and its top export markets are the US, UK, China, and Norway.

Nova Scotians participated in the Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPrize and won second in the accuracy category.

Knowledge clusters

Over the years, the establishment of a number of important scientific institutions have made Nova Scotia a reliable provider of ocean-related knowledge. These institutions, which include Dalhousie's Faculty of Physical Oceanography, the Bedford Institute of Oceanography, and the Defence Research and Development Canada Atlantic Laboratory, are supported by a large network of small and medium-sized companies that develop internationally renowned technology.

  • Nova Scotia has one of the highest concentrations of oceans-related PhDs in the world
  • Bedford Institute of Oceanography is Canada’s largest centre for oceans, with over 600 scientists, engineers, and technicians
  • Dalhousie University has Canada’s first and only multidisciplinary bachelor’s degree program—ocean sciences—as well as a marine biology major at the bachelor’s level. It also offers master's and doctoral programs in oceanography, marine biology, marine management, and marine law
  • Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC)’s NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Integrated Ocean Mapping Technologies focuses on developing innovative seafloor mapping methods and techniques to support a variety of ocean sector industries
  • NSCC offers a variety of ocean and marine-related education and training programs, including Advanced Diplomas in Ocean TechnologyMarine Engineering, and Marine Navigation
  • The NSCC Nautical Institute offers Transport-Canada approved marine training. Marine facilities on site include a wave tank, free-fall lifeboat and fire training centre, and state-of-the-art simulation equipment. The Nautical Institute also offers customizable training to industry and industry certification courses


Centre for Ocean Ventures & Entrepreneurship (COVE) is a collaborative facility for applied innovation in the ocean sector. The primary role of COVE is to support ocean technology commercialization. This collaborative space will be home to local and global ocean technology businesses, start-ups, researchers, marine-based and service businesses that support the ocean technology sector.

The facility will include a mix of short and long-term workspace to support members locally and those visiting from other locations. They will receive access to a range of services and shared infrastructure. There will also be a full mix of programming that can be accessed on site and on a virtual basis. Members from across Nova Scotia will have access to services via regional node arrangements.

View the COVE Ocean Tech or Naval Defence PDF brochure.

Fast facts

  • The ocean-technology industry accounts for about one-third of total research and development among Nova Scotia businesses
  • Oceans account for 15% of provincial GDP
  • Dalhousie University has 25% of all federal National Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada (NSERC) oceans research grants
  • The $25-billion naval defence contract with Irving Shipbuilding is this province’s most significant new economic opportunity, bringing over 25 years of activity to the Halifax Shipyard
  • The revenue of the oceans sector in Nova Scotia doubled from $500 million in 2009 to $1 billion in 2011, according to a report published by the province of Nova Scotia
  • The Institute for Ocean Research Enterprise is a coordinating body between industry, government, research facilities, and post-secondary institutions

Find more information from the Ocean Technology Council of Nova Scotia

View our ocean technology infographic PDF.

You'll be in good company

For an inclusive listing of oceans technologies companies in Nova Scotia, please visit OTCNS' Capabilities Guide.