The five-year contract for the P.E.I.-Nova Scotia ferry service between the federal government and Northumberland Ferries Ltd. expires in March, but a Transport Canada spokesperson, Maryse Durette, said Friday it is working on extending the current contract for one more year.

The future of the service after March 2011 is currently up in the air. It’s been suggested by the Liberal MP for the eastern end of P.E.I., Lawrence MacAulay, that Transport Canada plans to evaluate the ferry service during that year.

Transport Canada is denying that claim, however.

“The extension is not conditional on a formal policy review,” she said.

“We assess the ferry services in the country as part of our normal management, and it could be done of this service.”

Central Nova Scotia MP Peter MacKay was unavailable for comment Friday, but his spokesperson, Cindy MacInnis, said it’s hoped a new, one-year contract with the company will be in place by April 1, 2010.

Tourism PEI has reported that ferry traffic has declined every year for the past five years.

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