'Special treatment': Beckham criticised over fishing trip in Norwegian river

Locals claim the former England captain and his friends were been given special treatment to fish in a river subject to strict regulations.

David Beckham has been criticised by locals in Norway after he was filmed fishing in a river that is subject to strict regulations.

Locals claimed the former England captain and his friends were given special treatment to fish in the Laerdal river – otherwise known as “the queen of salmon rivers – last week.

The criticism comes at a time when salmon fishing has been restricted for Norwegians due to its rapidly declining population.

A Norwegian broadcaster published footage that appeared to show Beckham fishing in a river near the Sognefjord.

Some complained that the ex-footballer was given special treatment from local authorities and alleged that an expensive loophole in the regulations may have been used to gain access to the river.

Norwegian authorities have banned fishing for wild salmon in 33 of Norway’s rivers this summer after a survey showed salmon numbers had halved.

The sharp decline is reported to be caused by climate change and the effects of fish farming.

A loophole to the current ban is a programme called stamfiske. This involves the salmon being transported to a hatchery once they are caught, where the roe are harvested for artificial insemination.

Norwegian newspaper, Bergens Tidende, reported that these expeditions involve a donation of up to 1.4 million kroner (£100,000), to the salmon conservation group that runs the hatcheries.

It is unclear whether Beckham provided a donatiion.

But Liv Signe Navarsete, the county’s governor, is reported to have allowed Beckham’s trip to go ahead despite oppositions from her staff.

The public broadcaster in Norway, NRK, reported that Ms Navarsete’s husband potentially stood to benefit from any money being received due to being a member of the consortium that owned the river.

However, Ms Navarsete denies that her husband or the other river owners would receive money from donations and says she did not know Beckham would be there when she approved the trip.

She says she intervened in the case because a previous decision to block the trip had been based on an incomplete research report.

“The county governor sees it as inconceivable that her husband had had any direct or indirect financial gain from the decisions in the case,” a spokeswoman for Ms Navarsete said, according to The Times.

“All revenues go to a non-profit, and the river owners’ association has no financial gains, directly or indirectly,” they said.

A spokesperson for Beckham told The Times said he was not involved in organising the trip and the trip complied with Norwegian rules.

The ex-footballer is an avid fisher and has previously taken his son, Brooklyn, fishing in Dorset. He has also traveled to salmon rivers in Iceland with Guy Ritchie.

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