Federal Finance Minister Joe Oliver says Ottawa will maintain its moratorium on oil and gas exploration on Georges Bank, a rich fishing area southwest of Nova Scotia.

The ban expires at the end of 2015 and Nova Scotia has been in talks with the federal government about extending it until the end of 2022.

"The government of Canada has been supportive of the moratorium and we continue to be. There's some technical issues about when we extend it, but there's nothing in our policy which suggests we want to see it opened up," the former natural resources minister told reporters on Tuesday after addressing the Halifax Chamber of Commerce.

"There is a moratorium and that's a fact.… It's not something people should be concerned about."

The Nova Scotia government said it welcomes the commitment from the federal government.

Joe Oliver Halifax

Finance Minister Joe Oliver touted the Conservative party's economic record in his speech to the Halifax Chamber of Commerce. (Paul Withers/CBC)

"A lot of people do support that moratorium and maintaining the status quo there," said provincial Environment Minister Randy Delorey. "It's welcomed news today."

Georges Bank is a rich fishing area south of Yarmouth known for its abundance of haddock, halibut and scallops. Its shallow waters also welcome endangered species of whales and turtles that migrate through the nutrient-rich area.

The ocean floor of Georges Bank — about 100 kilometres off the coast — is thought to contain large quantities of natural gas.

with files from the Canadian Press