Home to a dynamic and diverse oceans cluster

It should be no surprise that Halifax is a world leader in the oceans sector, given its strategic location on North America’s east coast, the focus of its universities and community college, and the depth of its science-based workforce.

The sector itself is broad, and includes goods and services providers engaged in oceans technology, fisheries and aquaculture, shipbuilding, and ocean observations, as well as marine-centric defence and security, transportation, life sciences and energy. Local companies within the sector are often involved in two or more of these ocean industries. 

Halifax and the region's economy benefit significantly from the ocean sector:

  • Estimated economic impact of $2.6 Billion, accounting for 8.1% of the provincial GDP
  • Including spin-offs, the sector generates $5.0 billion, or 15.5% of GDP
Why choose Halifax?
  • A niche in marine-derived nutraceuticals and food additives. Halifax is a leader in the development and production of marine-derived nutraceuticals.
  1. Acadian Seaplants, the world's largest manufacturer of seaweed-based specialty products;
  2. Ocean Nutrition, one of the world's largest producers of Omega-3 supplements;
  3. Ascenta Health, which has the largest share of Canada's Omega-3 supplements market; and,
  4. The National Research Council's Institute for Marine Biosciences, which employs 120 scientists, technicians and support staff, and undertakes cutting-edge R&D with nutraceuticals and functional food companies.
  • A defence and security cluster specializing in marine applications. As home to 45% of Canada’s military assets and 10,000 DND and Canadian Forces personnel, Halifax has a dynamic defence and security cluster largely focused on the marine environment. Our private sector strengths in this area include technologies related to military, search and rescue, surveillance, port security and system integration.

    The local industry is intimately tied to Canadian military procurement, and is undertaking large-scale Department of National Defence projects, including the modernization of DND’s 12 Halifax class multi-patrol frigates, known as the Halifax Class Modernization/Frigate Life Extension Project, and the $25 billion combat vessel contract under the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy.
  • A base for offshore oil & gas support. Halifax is a member of the World Energy Cities Partnership (WECP), an organization of 18 international cities that have a core focus on energy (oil, gas, and renewables). Halifax’s offshore technology firms have deep experience in the offshore oil and gas industry, having provided much of the engineering, seismic survey, modeling and forecasting, production and processing, and underwater intervention support during the Sable Island Offshore Energy Project (currently winding down), and the Deep Panuke Project (currently under development). Encana is leading the installation of facilities required to produce and process natural gas from the Deep Panuke field, approximately 250 kilometres (155 miles) southeast of Halifax, on the Scotian Shelf. Future opportunities to support oil and gas industry work are expected, as Shell Canada prepares to undertake a $970 million exploration project of four deepwater parcels believed to contain significant deposits of oil. The parcels are also located on the Scotian Shelf, 200 kilometres (125 miles) southwest of Halifax.
  • Major incentives. Whether starting, relocating or expanding a business, you can benefit from a number of incentives at both the federal and provincial level to help you invest in Halifax. We’ll be glad to assist you in identifying the ones that best suit your needs.
  1. Nova Scotia Payroll Rebate

  2. Capital Investment Incentive and Workplace Innovation and Productivity Skills Incentive.

  3. ACOA's Atlantic Innovation Fund
  4. ACOA's Business Development Program (BDP)
  5. NRC's Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP)

  6. The Scientific Research & Experimental Development (SR&ED) Program

  7. Canadian Innovation Commercialization Program (CICP)

  • For defence and security companies with Industrial Regional Benefit Policy (IRBP) commitments, Halifax is the perfect place to invest given its concentration of publicly-funded research and ocean technology companies. For every dollar you allocate to a university or research institute you can offset up to five dollars in IRBP obligations.
  • We’re strategically located, whether you are moving goods in and out of North America, or delivering services across European, North American and Caribbean time zones.
  • Halifax is Canada’s smart city. Halifax has among the highest ratios of educational facilities to population in North America, with six universities offering a multitude of undergraduate and graduate programs. More than 32,000 students are enrolled at these universities every year, while some 6,550 earn degrees and certificates. This is in addition to the 10,688 students across Nova Scotia who attend the Nova Scotia Community College, as well as students graduating from universities in nearby towns and provinces. While many of these institutions offer programs indirectly related to the oceans sector, such as engineering and science degrees, Dalhousie University is recognized as a world-class educational provider of marine-specific programs. Its programs range from oceanography and marine biology, to marine management and marine law. Furthermore, the Nova Scotia Community College offers a certificate in marine industrial rigging at one of its Halifax campuses, in addition to numerous other programs that serve the oceans cluster. They are in the areas of engineering and applied science technology, geomatics, and natural resources and environment.

  • A leader in marine R&D (Research & Defence). Halifax has a critical mass of government scientists undertaking exciting R&D in marine-related renewable energy, defence and security, and environmental management. Many are based at:
  1. Defence Research Development Canada (Atlantic), employs 240 staff and is Canada’s leading centre in sonar technology, torpedo defence, mine hunting, ship hydrodynamics and naval materials research. Dalhousie University: Oceans research is central to Dalhousie University, to Halifax, to Nova Scotia, to Canada and to the world. Dalhousie scientists, with federal laboratory scientists in Halifax and their national and international colleagues, are providing the world with remarkable, cutting-edge information on oceans. Dalhousie's work makes Halifax and Canada one of the global leaders in oceans research.
  2. The Bedford Institute of Oceanography, home to 700 scientists, engineers and others, conducts world-class ocean research related to federal government marine priorities, including sovereignty and defence, environmental management, and health and safety.
  3. Dalhousie University's professors and associates in Marine Affairs and associated programs are engaged in oceanography, marine and environmental law and policy, and resource and environmental studies.
  4. Acoustic Data Analysis Centre Atlantic (ADAC Atlantic), operated by DND and recognized as an expert in acoustic analysis and training in Canada.
  5. Environment Canada Meteorological Service of Canada (Atlantic), home to 100 meteorologists, scientists and support staff;
  6. Geological Survey of Canada, the principal marine geoscience facility in Canada providing expertise in geophysical mapping and marine geosciences.

  7. The National Research Council for Marine Biosciences (Atlantic), consisting of 120 scientists, technicians and support staff undertaking world-class R&D in marine biosciences and biotechnology.

Notable Ocean Industries Companies in Halifax

Marine Defence & Security

Offshore & Gas

Read more about key players in ocean industries.
Industry Voices

"Our competitors are working hard to gain an advantage in the marketplace. The payroll rebate helps our Nova Scotia-based company retain and retrain our skilled workforce while we invest in our overall competitiveness."

John Fitzpatrick                                                                                                                President, Advanced Precision

"We are pleased to offer our guests the opportunity to explore the magic of Halifax and its surrounding areas as part of our five-night cruises up the New England Coast. We believe our guests are going to love this experience."

Karl Holz                                                                                                                           President, Disney Cruise Line

"Our experience has been tremendously positive in terms of quality and quantity of skilled labour in Nova Scotia."

Tom Digan                                                                                                                   
President, Lockheed Martin Canada

“With its skilled workforce, business friendly environment, competitive costs, and advantageous geographical location, Nova Scotia has been a cornerstone of our Canadian operations for many years and will continue to be an important part of our growth strategy.”

Richard D. Ackerman
VP – Business Development
L-3 Electronic Systems