The Nova Scotia government has approved a controversial proposal to build two salmon farms in Jordan Bay, near Shelburne.

Kelly Cove Salmon Ltd., a subsidiary of New Brunswick-based Cooke Aquaculture Inc., will operate the new sites.

"The province is committed to ensuring aquaculture continues to be an economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable industry in Nova Scotia," Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister Sterling Belliveau said in a statement.

"These new sites will help to further grow the industry and the economy in southwest Nova Scotia, while creating good, year-round jobs in rural communities."

There had been intense opposition to the proposed fish farms, which will see as many as 700,000 fish in total. Fishermen in the area were concerned large-scale aquaculture operations would threaten wild fisheries, particularly lobster.

The government's approval of the farms on Tuesday includes a reduction in the density of the salmon stocking in the pens and enhanced environmental monitoring by a third-party consultant, including more site visits and additional sampling locations.

As part of the licence to operate, the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture has the right to restrict production, require mitigation measures and not permit restocking in response to any environmental concerns, until the site returns to acceptable standards.

"Kelly Cove Salmon Ltd. must comply with all terms and conditions of the licence agreement to ensure the farms operate in a sustainable manner," Belliveau said.

Cooke Aquaculture has promised to build a large processing plant nearby.