A number of fishing vessels gathered in St. Marys Bay on Sunday for what fishermen called a peaceful protest of salmon farms.

About 20 fishing boats were fishing in waters next to a farm owned by New Brunswick company Cooke Aquaculture. The fishermen consider the area a sensitive lobster ground.

Karen Crocker, whose husband was one of the fishermen who took part in the protest, said the public has to step in and pressure the provincial government to stop salmon farms.

"There's just not enough regulation in place in order to really look at how having industrial-sized feedlot salmon farms are going to impact our ecosystems," said Crocker.

She said communities are divided over the issues of creating jobs and protecting the environment.

"It's really a sad situation," she said. "They dangle that proverbial carrot of jobs, jobs, jobs and we've been promised here that there's going to be 35 jobs by the end of August for these sites. That hasn't happened. We have a handful of people employed on them who are employed on a part-time basis.

"There's no economic boom happening here."

Cooke Aquaculture bills itself as North America's largest producer of farmed salmon. Its 84-hectare farm can stock up to 1.4 million fish.

The Nova Scotia government approved the company's plans for two salmon farms in St. Marys Bay in June. It said a lengthy review determined that the risk to fish and fish habitat was minimal.