Aquaculture funds £250m for coastal communities

Norway's Fisheries and Marine Affairs Minister, Bjørnar Skjæran

More than NOK 3bn (£250m) is to be distributed to Norwegian coastal communities from the government’s aquaculture fund.

A total of 142 municipalities and seven county municipalities will share the payout, which is less than had been hoped .

The aquaculture fund makes grants to fish farm-related local authorities and county municipalities from the proceeds of a salmon permit auction held every two years.

The figure should have been much larger, but the big companies boycotted the auction in October in protest against the Norwegian government’s proposed ground rent tax. They thought it a waste of time bidding for extra production when a large chunk of the revenue is going to be taken away in tax.

Fisheries and Oceans Minister Bjørnar Skjæran said: “The coastal municipalities play an important role in facilitating the farming industry, and the sum they now receive is greater than with the previous allocation.

“This means that these municipalities will receive more money for schools, kindergartens, care for the elderly and development in their local communities

Finance Minister Trygve Slagsvold Vedum, who is proposing the controversial new tax to parliament, said: “This is income that the municipalities get right away, and which can be used for good services for people along the coast.

“The new income that will come from the planned ground rent tax on aquaculture is long-term income that will come later, in addition to the money that comes now. This shows that we have a government that sees the whole of Norway.”

He added: “The Directorate of Fisheries makes the payment. It will happen as soon as possible after the Storting has considered the proposal from the government. It will probably be before Christmas, and at the latest in the New Year.”