Coronavirus and leisure travel restrictions (clarification)
Lakselv Landowners Association would like to clarify both the content and intention with the Facebook post 18th of May "Update: Corona and travel restrictions".
Martin Rognli Johansen
Wednesday 27.May 2020 / 19:23
The Facebook post was originally intended as a quick update where we without going into details, could inform about the Norwegian government`s schedule for reconsidering the travel restrictions affecting foreign fishermen. At the same time, we wanted to inform that fishing licenses cannot be refunded until we know more .
By the reactions we have received after posting on Facebook, we understand that the content may have been perceived differently than what was intended. This is why we feel the need to clarify our original intention with the post and give an explanation of our position on the matter.
Lakselva: Covid-19 and travel restrictions - Questions regarding refund of fishing licences for foreign fishermen
On 18 May Lakselv Grunneierforening ("LGF") issued information on our home page and Facebook site regarding the existing travel restrictions for foreign fishermen. We also provided information that the board of LGF has decided that at this point of time and based on the current knowledge related to the travel restrictions no refunds of fishing licences will be made. We also informed that a final decision will not be made until the fishing season has ended, in order to obtain a better overview of the actual consequences of the Covid-19 travel restrictions for both our fishermen and for LGF.
After our initial statement several foreign fishermen has contacted us and many of our fishermen has responded on our Facebook page. It seems that some of the respondents have made assumptions and statements that is based on misunderstandings, both with respect to what we have actually communicated, and also with respect to Norwegian law and LGF's economy and intentions. Please see below clarifications of LGF's position in this matter.
First of all, we want to express that all of us in LGF are sincerely very sad and concerned about the Civid-19 situation, and the travel restrictions imposed by governments around the world, including for Norway. The consequences for our foreign fishermen may of course be very negative if the fishing licences cannot be used as supposed.
Secondly, as stated in our communication, LGF has not yet made a final decision as to the question of refunds. The Norwegian government has stated that it will provide further regulations by 15 June with respect to the Nordic countries and certain other countries. It may therefore still be possible for many of our Scandinavian guests and possibly also for other European guests to travel to Lakselv and make use of the fishing licence. Moreover, the government will also issue information on other countries within 20 July. On this background we still not know, unfortunately, which travel restrictions will actually exist, and the consequences for our foreign fishermen. In such a situation we cannot anticipate, on uncertain grounds, consequences that may possibly not be true, and can therefore not offer foreign fishermen a refund now.
We have therefore decided to wait until the government issue new information and rules for travel to Norway (probably close to 15 June) before we again consider the actual situation, we can anticipate going into the fishing season. In this evaluation we have also considered that Lakselva is a "late river" and that almost all our sales are for the period after 1 July. Thus, new regulations given around 15 June should also be possible to cope with and plan for by at least most of our fishermen.
Thirdly, we would like to inform that our decision so far is not based on any intention to benefit inappropriately on our foreign fishermen. We value and cherish all our customers and will do our outmost to find solutions that is acceptable for both LGF and our customers. Please note, however, that LGF is a small association with limited economic resources. We have contractual obligations towards both private and public landowners, and operating expenses that cannot just be cut off or cancelled. Licences sold to foreign fishermen also constitute a majority of our sale, meaning that offering a refund to all foreign fishermen is simply not possible, and it would in any case be right out hazardous if such a decision was made even before we know if (and which groups of) foreign fishermen are denied access to Norway. Please also note that the Norwegian state's different aid-packages to businesses due to Covid-19 consequences will not enable LGF to support. That is at least the current situation.
Fourthly, we also want to inform that it is not correct that LGF is obliged to provide a refund under Norwegian law. If that was the case, we would of course have offered such refunds. To the contrary, it is stated explicitly in our terms & conditions, which must be accepted prior to purchase, that all purchases are non-refundable. Please also note that it is not LGF that cannot offer its product, but the unfortunate travel restrictions issued out of control of LGF that is imposing the problem. Also, Norwegian contract law principles implies (in general) that a buyer is himself responsible for travel to the destination he intends to visit, and that the seller of local services has no legal obligation to refund a prepayment if the traveller cannot make the journey. This is different than in cases where fishing is sold as a "package" with also housing/rooms, in which case the seller is obliged to refund (this is the case with a lot of the fishing in many other rivers).
As stated above, we underline however, that even though LGF has no legal obligation to make refunds, we are deeply concerned of the possible negative consequences for our foreign fishermen. We are therefore monitoring the situation closely and will make our outmost to seek to find a solution that can accommodate best possible those with losses. We do not know, however, now what the travel restrictions will be, and due to that, what the consequences will be for both our fishermen and for LGF.
Finally, we have received feedback from many foreign fishermen that they want to fish Lakselva if they allowed to come to Norway and want to wait and see what new and hopefully more liberal travel restrictions may be issued by 15 June, and up to 20 July. We hope that new regulations will allow at least a vast majority of our foreign fishermen to come to Lakselva this summer.
This is also partly the reason that we have not wanted to start cancelling licences with the aim to resell such licences in the Norwegian market. When we also know more about what the situation will be, hopefully by 15 June, the board of LGF will again evaluate the situation. In these considerations we will of course also take into consideration different constructive and good suggestions from our fishermen. In the meantime, we kindly ask for your continued patience with this for us all very difficult situation.
May 27th, 2020