HALIFAX -- Nova Scotia's transportation minister says the province needs to see audited financial statements and a sound plan from Nova Star Cruises within two weeks before it decides whether to renew its agreement with the ferry operator.

Geoff MacLellan said Thursday the province has to closely examine bookings and revenue from the company during the peak season before making a decision on whether to continue with the operator in 2016.

MacLellan says his department has already had meetings with three separate groups about possibly taking over the service, but he won't take formal proposals until he's met with Nova Star.

He says he wants to know what the plan is to stabilize and improve on the number of passengers taking the ferry between Yarmouth and Maine.

"Within the next couple of weeks there's a number of these components that Nova Star has to deliver on: the financials, the plan for winter work and their overall plan for growth and stability in the market," the minister said after cabinet meetings.

"If that's in play we will have serious discussions with them. If they're not in play, then we have to pivot."

After bringing 59,000 tourists to Nova Scotia last year the money-losing service has set an overall goal of 80,000 passengers for this season, which began June 1.

Though passenger traffic was up about 10 per cent in July compared to the same time period last year -- from 19,822 passengers to 21,871 passengers --MacLellan said he has concerns about whether the passenger goal will be achieved this season due to the lower-than-expected number of Canadians travelling to Maine.

He also said he hadn't expected to hear in a meeting last week that Nova Star could use a portion of its provincial subsidy for a potential run the ferry would be chartered to carry out in Europe between the ports of Boulogne, France, and Ramsgate, England for Euroferries.

"For us that was unexpected for sure, and we're not going to subsidize a run that's operating in Europe ... We've got to have a better setup for the Nova Scotia taxpayers on the winter work," he said.

The provincial government has provided $13 million in funding this year after spending $28.5 million to subsidize the ferry last season.

However, Mark Amundsen, the president of Nova Star, said in an interview that the winter service wouldn't require use of the provincial funds to operate the vessel.

"There will be no vessel charges to Nova Scotia for this time charter," he said.

He said the charter contract with Euroferries calls for the route between Boulogne and Ramsgate to begin in November, though Euroferries is still securing the agreement with the port of Ramsgate.

Amundsen said he expects to be able to present a plan to the province that will show using the ferry in Europe is the best plan for Nova Scotian taxpayers.

"We have the best plan going forward. We have one of the finest and newest ferries in the world ... It's ideally suited for this run. We need to get the minister the information he needs. That's important," he said.