Top salmon companies attack tax plan

TWO of Norway’s leading salmon farming companies have joined the growing chorus condemning government plans for a new tax on the seafood sector.
Following publication of its recent first quarter results, Lerøy Seafood said the reports were leading to increased uncertainty.
And Alf-Helge Aarskog, CEO of Marine Harvest, told the business news website that any proposal that led to increased costs was not good for the industry.
He pointed out that aquaculture costs had risen significantly in recently years, largely due to overcoming environmental challenges such as sea lice.
Lerøy said it was sad and almost incomprehensible that an impression was being given that Norwegian aquaculture and white fish companies did not create value or a ripple down effect in the Norwegian economy.
Shares in Norwegian aquaculture companies fell sharply on the Oslo Stock Exchange recently, following reports that the Norwegian government is considering a new tax on the industry, although they later recovered.
The left wing Socialist Left, or SV, party has already called for an oil industry style levy on fish farming companies in which they are charged by the kilo they produce.
While this proposal is likely to be rejected, the current right of centre government has said it is looking at plans to impose a special tax – despite strong opposition from within the government in the shape of Norway’s fisheries minister, Per Sandberg.
Sandberg was quite vocal in objections to his own government’s plan. He said: ‘Farmers in Norway are charged more than enough taxes as it is.
‘Politicians appear to be blinded by high salmon prices and huge surpluses. This is a tax I do not want to see.’
The finance ministry said it is looking at a possible 2020 start, but has not spelt out how the tax will work.
Seafood Norway, which represents 500 companies in the aquaculture and traditional fishing centre, has already registered its objections, pointing out that fish farming is highly cyclical, with both good times and bad.
It also warned that salmon companies may choose to take any new investment plans overseas to countries such as Canada, Scotland and Chile.
Picture: Marine Harvest CEO Alf-Helge Aarskog