The Nova Scotia government is spending $2.8 million on the aquaculture industry just as it opens up the sector to new applications for ocean-based farming operations.

The province says the funding will be used on a "more rigorous" approval process for new aquaculture operations, along with $2 million for research projects on how the sites affect the local environment.

It will also be used for planning for aquaculture development and innovation in production methods.

A new licensing process requires approval by an independent aquaculture review board, an aquaculture development plan and consultation with other levels of government and First Nations in certain cases.

Premier Stephen McNeil says the investment will create jobs in an industry that is worth $60 million annually, supports 600 direct jobs and contributes to seafood exports valued at $1.68 billion last year.