New Brunswick Premier David Award is asking party members to help him counter the anti-fracking sentiment spreading on social media.

At the Progressive-Conservative’s annual meeting in Fredericton on Saturday, Alward told the crowd they need to oppose the negative reaction to the prospect of shale gas development in the province.

“If people say no, it means that communities are going to continue to struggle, to shrivel up,” he said.

Alward said he's confident people in New Brunswick will say yes to shale gas development, despite confrontations between protesters and police in Rexton last month.

“I believe that when given the choice, New Brunswickers will say yes to seeing our province move forward, yes to seeing our young people come home from the west, where they're doing the very same work in the very same resources that they could be doing here in New Brunswick....There is a consequence if people don't say yes."

The premier is also pushing back against continuing calls for a moratorium by opposition politicians and people on social media.

“People spread fear and when there's the unknown, it's natural for people to react that way,” he said.

Alward said his government will hold shale gas companies to account with strong regulations.

Protesters have been calling for a halt on seismic work conducted by SWN Resources Canada, the company at the centre of the dispute.