Magnet fishing

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Magnet fishing in the Scarpe at Lallaing, France.

Magnet fishing, also called magnetic fishing, is searching in outdoor waters for ferromagnetic objects available to pull with a strong neodymium magnet.[1]

The hobby is a combination of environmentalism and treasure hunting. The magnets used are strong enough to remove large debris such as discarded bicycles, guns, safes, bombs, coins and car tire rims from bodies of water, but many who engage in the hobby are hoping to find rare and valuable items as well. Magnet fishers have also been known to return stolen safes to their owners after a number of years.[2]

It is thought magnet fishing was initially started by boaters using magnets to recover fallen keys from the water.[3]

The hobby has been adopted by celebrities such as English rugby player James Haskell. [4][3]

Potential harms[edit]

Some environmentalists worry that removing objects can stir up sediment that contains toxic materials, or disturb archaeological sites. Some magnet fishers have retrieved dangerous objects, including loaded guns and unexploded ordinance.[5]

Magnet fishing and the law[edit]

Depending on the jurisdiction, anything of value may belong to the local government, not the finder.[5]

England & Wales[edit]

Magnet fishing is subject to local regulations concerning outdoor waters. It is legal but the Canal & River Trust, which owns most of the UK's canals, has bylaws prohibiting people from removing material from the canal and rivers it owns so fishers may be subject to a £25 fine[6], to magnet-fish, or remove any material from canal or inland navigation under the control of the Canal & River Trust in England or Wales, other than the Lee and Stort Navigation, Gloucester and Sharpness Canal, and River Severn Navigation.[7] The Trust "expressly prohibit[s]" the practice although it refrains from legal action against first-time offenders.[3] In 2018, a child magnet-fished a sawn-off shotgun out of the Titford Canal in Oldbury, West Midlands.[8]


In Hamburg, magnet fishing without a permit is punishable by fine.[9][10]


Amateur magnetfishers in Belgium helped the police by recovering new evidence, specifically firearms and ammunition, related to the crimes of the Brabant killers.[11]

In general, police urge those who find weapons or similar items to contact them.[3][12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Magnet fishing: The explosive hobby cleaning up French rivers". AFP via Yahoo! News. Retrieved 2020-04-11.
  2. ^ "Magnet fisher returns stolen goods after 12 years". Magnet Store. 2019-05-24. Retrieved 2020-10-18.
  3. ^ a b c d Elliott, Coran (18 August 2018). "Safety warning as rise in magnet fishing hobby sees anglers fish out guns and grenades in UK rivers". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 18 August 2018. Retrieved 23 August 2018. Alt URL
  4. ^ "Magnet fishing: England rugby star James Haskell's unusual hobby". BBC News. 4 February 2018. Retrieved 2020-04-11.
  5. ^ a b Casting about for a new pastime during the pandemic? With magnet fishing, "it's all about the find"
  6. ^ "The hidden dangers of magnet fishing". BBC News. 2019-09-13. Retrieved 2020-10-18.
  7. ^ "General Canal Bye-laws" (PDF). British Waterways Board. 24 February 1965. p. 16. Retrieved 21 August 2018. 41. No person unless authorised by the Board in that behalf or otherwise legally entitled so to do shall: ... (d) Dredge or remove coal or other material from any canal.
  8. ^ "Family find sawn-off shotgun in canal". ITV News. 28 August 2018. Archived from the original on 29 August 2018.
  9. ^ "Behörde warnt eindringlich vor Magnetangeln" [Authority warns urgently against magnetic fishing] (in German). Hamburg: Verlagsgesellschaft Madsack GmbH & Co. KG. RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland. 23 May 2019. Retrieved 29 July 2019.
  10. ^ "Umweltgebührenordnung (UmwGebO) Vom 5. Dezember 1995" [Environmental fee schedule (UmwGebO) From December 5, 1995]. Landesrecht online (in German). Hamburg. 5 December 1995. Retrieved 29 July 2019.
  11. ^ "'Magneetvissers' bezorgen dozen met munitie en wapens aan speurders Bende van Nijvel". De Standaard (in Dutch). Antwerp, Belgium: Raad voor de journalistiek. 26 October 2017. Retrieved 27 October 2017.
  12. ^ "'Magnet fishing' hobbyist finds firearm in water at Reaume Park in east Windsor". Windsor Star. Retrieved 2020-04-11.