Norway's fish farming communities are to receive a funding boost, as the Norwegian government commits an additional NOK 900 million to the Aquaculture Fund.
The new Fisheries and Oceans Minister Cecilie Myrseth announced the move, expanding the 2023 budget to a total of NOK 1.4 billion that will be paid out to municiapalities and county councils that facilitate aquaculture activities.
"The government is concerned that the community's rich resources should contribute to building coastal communities and ensuring welfare. The local communities that facilitate aquaculture should get more in return," Myrseth said in a Norwegian-language statement.
The additional income comes as a result of auctioning farming permits, in addition to funds received from the ground rent tax for aquaculture, which proved higher than budgeted for 2023, the Ministry said.
Once the proposal is approved by the Storting, the funds will be paid out by the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries during December. Of the NOK 1.4 billion total, 87.5% is destined for the municipalities, with the remaining 12.5% going to county councils.
Next year, the Ministry also said, municipalities will see significant financial benefits from the resource rent tax on aquaculture - the so-called "salmon tax".
The Norwegian government had previously said that it hoped to give back money generated to by the tax to the local communities where salmon and trout farming activities are based.
Norwegian authorities are now budgeting NOK 1.2 billion to be generated from the resource rent tax in 2024, compared to the NOK 500 million garnered during 2023. The entire amount, Myrseth said, will go to the Aquaculture Fund to be dispersed to councils and municipalities along the Norwegian coast.
"The government has promised that the municipal sector will come out better after we introduced the ground rent tax, now we are following up. Going forward, the size of the payments will be less dependent on the allocation of new production capacity," Myrseth said.
"With the government's action, county councils and municipalities can look forward to high and more predictable payments in the coming years," Myrseth added.
The money for Norway's aquaculture fund comes from the resource rent tax and through the sale of new capacity for farming.
Through Norway's "traffic light" system for aquaculture permits, new farming capacity is allocated as a general rule every two years. This means that payments from the fund have historically varied depending on whether capacity is allocated or not in the individual year.
In order to compare payments, it is therefore appropriate to see these over a two-year period, the Ministry of Fisheries explains.
The allocation round in 2018-19 paid out a total of NOK 3.2 billion, increasing slightly to NOK 3.3 billion in 2020-21. For the 2022/2023 allocation round, the government's proposal involves a total payment of NOK 4.5 billion.