YARMOUTH, Nova Scotia — The Nova Scotia government is negotiating with a Maine-based company to run a ferry service between Portland and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, with a goal of restoring a ferry service that ended almost four years ago, officials said Tuesday.

Economic Development Minister Graham Steele said STM Quest Incorporated was selected to set up and run the ferry service. STM Quest is a joint venture featuring Eliot, Maine-based Quest Navigation Inc., Miami-based International Shipping Partners and Singapore-based ST Marine.

The province was criticized after cutting subsidies, causing high-speed ferry service to be discontinued in December 2009.

It’s now offering $21 million over seven years to help get service re-established.

Steele said the government was never opposed to supporting a ferry service to Yarmouth.

“We’ve said all along that the province would support a ferry with the right business model and the right partners,” he said. “We are very close to having a ferry service that will stand on its own, a service that can be successful and profitable.”

A team of representatives from the Nova Scotia International Ferry Partnership and the province evaluated the plans based on financial stability, a management structure with expertise and a history of managing successful ferry services, and tourism and marketing experience, Canadian officials said.

Quest Navigation COO Steve Durell thanks Nova Scotia residents for the opportunity.

“We would also like to assure all Nova Scotians that we will devote our efforts to delivering the best value and a world-class cruise ferry service that will benefit all the people of Nova Scotia and serve as a symbol that makes everyone proud,” Durell said in a statement.

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