Salmon Producer Rails Against Norway’s Salmon Tax

(Photo Credit: Andrea Pokrzywinski/Flickr)

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Not since the Cod Wars have Nordic fish been so contentious.

The CEO of Mowi, the world’s largest salmon producer, took a swipe at Norway’s plans to introduce a 40% tax on salmon farms in an interview with the Financial Times, calling them a “dark cloud for the Norwegian salmon industry.” The proposed tax is predicated on the idea that salmon farmers profit from a natural resource, and would echo the 78% tax Norway imposes on oil. To be fair, fish are pretty oily.

Swimming Upstream

Norway first proposed the fishy new tax in September, sending producers’ stocks diving. The move was met with some outcry, which meant the government is on the hook to reassess the framework by March. But whatever it does settle on will apply retroactively from the beginning of this year.

Aquaculture is the world’s fastest-growing food sector, and Norway produces around half the world’s farmed salmon, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, so a 40% tax could shift the balance substantially:

  • Mowi CEO Ivan Vindheim told the FT the tax was “anti-business,” would lead to job losses for Norway, and that it would increase prices for consumers worldwide.
  • Salmon has been subject to inflationary pressures seen all over grocery store aisles, and the producers have been doing swimmingly. Mowi boasted record earnings in 2022, topping €1 billion in profit for the first time ever.

Teach a Man to Feed a Fish: The sustainability of fish aquaculture varies widely, and a new study published this week in Current Biology suggests the majority of environmental pressures caused by salmon farms boil down to the feed the fish are given. Scientists are researching low-impact feed alternatives including algae and insects. Grass-fed beef is so passé, cricket-fed salmon is the next big thing.