FREDERICTON - The New Brunswick government is calling for strict regulations for the province's on-shore natural gas industry.

The Conservatives used their majority in the legislature to pass a motion yesterday aimed at protecting groundwater amid concerns over the emerging shale gas industry.

The Tories also defeated a Liberal amendment calling for a moratorium and a committee study.

Last week, a Tory backbencher presented a 16,000-name petition that called for a ban on shale gas exploration and development.

There have been large demonstrations by New Brunswickers concerned about the hydraulic fracturing process that is used to free the natural gas locked in shale rock.