Tasmanians missing out on revenue from fish farms

The Tasmanian government may have forgone millions of dollars in potential revenue from the rapid growth in the fish farming industry according to a new report from The Australia Institute.

Key Findings:

  • Annual lease and licence fees paid by the salmon industry to the State Government, represented 0.1% of the total farm-gate production of the salmon industry in Tasmania, and 0.02% of total state revenue.
  • In contrast, Norway, the world’s largest salmon producer, auctions off licenses in perpetuity that last year raised NOK 2.9 billion ($468 million) for the people of Norway.
  • 80% of revenue raised in Norway since 2016 has been given back directly to the municipalities where the expansion is occurring. 
  • The Norwegian auctions are also transparent, undertaken in public with a list of lease areas, price paid and company name all published on a Government website.
  • The report also looked at the industry’s footprint in the context of the broader Tasmanian economic and political context and found that:
    • The industry has benefited from significant state and federal subsidies, with at least $9.3 million paid in the last two years.
    • There was disagreement within the industry on salmon aquaculture’s contribution to Gross State Product – ranging from 0.6% and 2.3% of total Gross State Product.
    • Politicians often over-estimated the economic importance of the industry to the state.

“Tasmanians are only seeing ten cents in every one hundred dollars of farm-gate production of the salmon industry returned to Tasmanian state revenues,” said Leanne Minshull, Director of the Australia Institute Tasmania.

“The community in Norway are getting money from their salmon, while the community in Tasmania are getting bugger all.

“Our research finds that if Tasmania adopted a similar auction regime to Norway, it could return between $707 million and $2 billion to the state.

“Changing the licensing regime for salmon farming in Tasmanian waters could increase the Tasmanian community’s share of the profits.

“These types of models foster greater trust in affected communities as well as ensuring those who bear the social and economic impact also share in the profits.”

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