Pressure mounts over Norway’s new fish farm tax

Norway’s largest salmon companies are continuing to pile pressure on government proposals to impose a new 40% land tax on the industry.

They include the country’s largest business, Mowi, which has urged the government to reconsider its plan.

Mowi, which is cancelling a £19m biomass increase, said: “The aquaculture industry is a future industry that we, as a nation, want to grow, and the proposed tax proposal affects investment ability and willingness very negatively.”

The company argued that what will become a total tax rate of 62% will stop significant investment along the entire coast which will not only lead to fewer jobs locally, but also the transfer of value from the coastal communities to central areas.

Mowi also pointed that it is a global business, suggesting that there are other countries, (including Scotland and Ireland), where it can funnel investment.

Meanwhile, two other big names, the Lerøy Seafood group and Cermaq are also shelving investment plans following SalMar’s decision yesterday to cancel a planned biomass purchase.

Cermaq CEO Steven Rafferty said: “Based on the new proposal, we have no choice but to put investment plans on hold. The proposal will affect growth and job creation in many coastal municipalities in which we operate.

“Cermaq has investment of more than NOK 5bn [£415m] in its two Norwegian farming areas of Nordland and Finnmark since 2016 and the intention was to invest a similar amount in the coming years.

“We planned a new hatchery in Hasvik municipality in Finnmark that would contribute 30 new jobs, but that project has now been put on hold.”

Similar sentiments have been expressed by Lerøy which is cancelling plans to purchase 614 tonnes of maximum permitted biomass worth NOK 123m (£10m) and postpone a NOK 420m (£35m) increase in production capacity in Troms county.

The company said: “It [the tax plan] creates unjustifiable framework conditions for the industry in Norway, and changes opportunities and incentives for investments other than maintenance.”

CEO Henning Beltestad added: “Norway should take responsibility, not least in these times, and continue to facilitate the production of food for the world’s population.

“The proposal for ground rent tax will stop the development of the industry’s value chain and thus reduce all its direct and indirect ripple effects along the coast.”

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