A new report by the Australia Institute has revealed the Tasmanian government may have missed out on millions of dollars in potential revenue from the rapid growth of the fish farm industry.
The report found annual license fees paid by the salmon industry represented 0.1 per cent of the total-farm gate production of the industry in Tasmania, and 0.02 per cent of state revenue.
In comparison, Norway, the world's largest salmon producer, raised $468 million through auctioning licenses in perpetuity last year.
Australia Institute state director and report co-author Leanne Minshull said if Tasmania adopted a similar auction regime to Norway it could return between $707 million to $2 billion to the state.
"Tasmanians were only seeing 10 cents in every $100 of farm-gate production of the salmon industry returned to Tasmanian state revenues," Ms Minshull said.
In comparison, 80 per cent of revenue raised in Norway since 2016 has been given directly back to the municipalities where fish farm expansion was occurring.
"The community in Norway are getting money from their salmon, while the community in Tasmania are getting bugger all," Ms Minshull said.
"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."
The report also found political leaders routinely exaggerate the salmon industry's role in Tasmania.
"The salmon industry is the 40th largest sector of employment in Tasmania, employing fewer than car repairs or child care," the report said.
"By reporting jobs supported rather than direct numbers of employees, the industry exaggerates its economic impact.
"While there has been growth in salmon industry's output ... the trend towards automation in the industry is likely to have kept job numbers down."
The report said estimates of salmon industry's contribution to Tasmania's gross state product vary significantly, even among industry groups, at between 0.6 and 2.3 per cent.
"Over the five years from 2013 to 2019, the Tasmanian salmon industry sold 255,000 tonnes of fish, worth $3.8 billion. $64 million in tax was paid, equal to 2 per cent of production value and 15 per cent of taxable income," the report said.
The industry also benefits from several federal and state subsidies having received $9.3 million in the two years of 2017 and 2018, the report said.