Norway’s salmon permit auction falls NOK 4bn short of target

Norway's Fisheries and Marine Affairs Minister, Bjørnar Skjæran

Norway’s salmon permit auction yesterday netted just under NOK 4 billion, (£334m) less than half of what had been expected.

The sale covered eight different mostly northern coastal zones right up to the Swedish border, but most household name companies boycotted the event in protest at the government’s planned 40% ground rent tax plan.

It went ahead despite calls earlier this week from two employer organisations, Seafood Norway and Seafood Companies (Sjomatbedriftene), to postpone the event.

They warned it would be irresponsible to hold it now because the sector does not know how the new tax will impact the industry.

A similar sale two years ago raised NOK 7bn (£600m) and it was thought a few weeks ago this one could bring in around NOK 8.5bn – and possibly up to NOK 10bn (£840m) on a very good day.

The proceeds are shared between the national exchequer and various coastal communities with salmon farming facilities who receive 40% of the take.

Seafood Norway CEO Geir Ove Ystmark said the government had effectively lost NOK 4bn in revenue and this only applied to the sale of permits. More would be lost though lower investment which meant less for the communities the government wants to help.

Companies would have offered far more if the tax proposal was not on the table, Ystmark contended, as demand for salmon has been enormous in recent years.

In addition the country had lost billions more in deferred or cancelled investment programmes, he added along with major market losses on the Oslo Stock Exchange.

Fisheries and Oceans Minister Bjørnar Skjæran said: “The government’s aim is to facilitate growth in the industry through the auction and there are many players who have bid. The auction shows that there is still good demand for capacity in most production areas, where farming is a large and important industry today.”