Tax plan “scary” says Seafood Norway chief

Seafood Norway, the employers organisation representing fishing and aquaculture, described yesterday’s announcement of a 40% land tax on fish farming companies as a “sad day for the industry”.

Its CEO Geir Ove Ystmark, said the move will have “serious consequences” for businesses and those who work for them.

He commented: “What the government is actually proposing is to slaughter of one of Norway’s most important industries. It is future workplaces for many people that are being put at risk.”

The Labour-led coalition government caused an industry earthquake yesterday when it pre-empted next week’s budget by announcing what is effectively a windfall tax on aquaculture and the wind power industry.

The big companies have announced large earnings increases in the past two quarters on the back of record salmon prices.

Prices have fallen back to more realistic levels since then, but production and energy costs are continuing to climb.

Ystmark said the aquaculture industry had already been hit by what was effectively a ground rent tax last year in the form of a production tax.

He described the new proposal, which will need parliamentary approval, as both dramatic and scary, suggesting that future investment could go abroad.

Ystmark warned: “The fish are not dependent on Norwegian seawater.”

“Sjømat Norge [Seafood Norway] believes geographically neutral aquaculture technology sharpens global competition.

“The world does not need Norwegian seawater to produce salmon. In other words, aquaculture is a mobile industry.

“We also do not take out a resource in the way that the petroleum industry does. The fjords cannot be moved, but they can be emptied of aquaculture facilities.

“Then the Norwegian suppliers, the slaughterhouses or the other companies associated with the aquaculture industry will not be able to benefit from the ripple effects.”

He said business, including aquaculture, was already facing huge additional costs related to the environment.

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