Tasmanians still missing out on revenue from fish farms

Results from Norway’s latest salmon auction again highlights the low price Tasmania is putting on its assets.  

This week, in Norway, a total of 30 Norwegian salmon farming companies purchased additional salmon licenses worth NOK 5.9 billion or AUD $921.2 million. The Norwegian Ministry of Trade Industries and Fishing stated that it had now sold salmon permits for twice as much as the previous auction.  

“The low revenue Tasmania has received for issuing its salmon licences compared to the prices secured by Norway has long been questionable. In light of the pandemic, it’s truly mind boggling,” said Leanne Minshull, Tasmanian Director of The Australia Institute.  

“There is no mystery here. In Norway a higher proportion of profits from salmon farming are returned to the community, while in Tasmania the higher proportion of profits goes to company executives and shareholders. That is a decision the State Government has made on behalf of Tasmanians. 

“Given the state’s commitment to growing the salmon industry, the question must be asked: how much will revenue for the state grow?” Ms Minshull said. 

In 2019 Australia Institute research found that the Tasmanian Government may have forgone millions of dollars in potential revenue from the rapid growth in the fish farming industry.  

The report found annual lease and licence fees paid to the State Government, represented 0.1% (one-thousandth) 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 (AUD $468 million) for the benefit of Norwegian citizens. 

The adoption of a similar auction regime in Tasmania could return between $707 million and $2 billion to the state for all Tasmanians. 

“The latest round of auctions in Norway has again highlighted the potential for the state to take a much larger slice of the revenue from Tasmania’s salmon farming industry,” said Ms Minshull. 

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