NORWAY’S remote coastal communities are reaping huge sums of development money from the country’s Aquaculture Fund, recent official figures suggest.
Small towns with fewer than 5,000 people have been handed amounts normally beyond their dreams, with one receiving more than 100 million kroners (around £9.2 million).
The total distribution of Aquaculture Fund money from the most recent round of licences granted to salmon farming companies has totalled at least 2.3 billion kroners (£213 million).
And this is on top of the additional employment and economic benefits the new fish farms will bring in their wake.
Currently top of the list is the Frøya municipality in the Trøndelag region, one of the main fish farming areas.
The town has just 4,900 inhabitants, but it has been handed NOK 103 million to help finance its future development.
Another community, Smøla in the Nordmøre region, with a population of 2,100, has netted NOK 44 million (£4.1 million).
Meanwhile, the slightly larger municipality of Møre og Romsdal will receive NOK 190 million (£17.5 million).
Geir Ove Ystmark, chief executive of Seafood Norway, said the fund was giving significant sums of money to many coastal communities.
‘The seafood industry wants strong and robust local communities, and the Aquaculture Fund now shows that the municipalities receive cash in the way as promised.
‘This also shows that it is not necessary to introduce new special taxes on aquaculture companies.’
But Harald T. Nesvik, Norway’s new fisheries minister, has told local politicians that while they can decide how the money should be spent, they should not expect such large sums every year.
The Aquaculture Fund was established in 2016, when the Oslo government decreed that those communities where fish farms are based should benefit directly from any new growth plans. The first payment, totalling NOK 60 million, was made last year.
The country’s fish farmers spent tens of billions of kroners at auction over three days in June this year, buying new salmon production licences.
Licences capable of producing 15,000 tonnes were up for auction and two thirds of that allocation was snapped up in under two days. The money from the licences is distributed every September.
Around 70 per cent from the fund goes to the municipalities, 10 per cent to county municipalities and 20 per cent to the state.
Picture: Norwegian fisheries minister Harald Nesvik