Announcement of UK’s First Magnet Fishing Agreement

Scottish Canals has entered an historic partnership agreement with Official Magnet Fishing Scotland, the new national body for the activity who will support new magnet fishers across the country after a surge in popularity during this year’s Covid lockdown.

The agreement, which is the first of its kind in the UK, will see members of Official Magnet Fishing Scotland given permission to carry out magnet fishing on Scotland’s canal network.  Key locations along Scotland’s canal network have been identified in partnership with magnet fishers which include highly popular stretches of the network such as the Forth & Clyde Canal in Glasgow.

Scotland’s canals have become the go-to destination for magnet fishers across the country with numbers soaring during lock down. Until now, magnet fishing has not been allowed on the canals to preserve the safety of those who take part and the canals themselves.

Under this agreement, members of Official Magnet Fishing Scotland have signed up to a code of conduct which sets out where they will operate, what they will do if they find an ancient artefact and how they will dispose of any junk that is pulled from the canal.

As part of the agreement the first national magnet fishing information leaflet is currently being drawn up by Police Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland and Scottish Canals which sets out safe working practice of the activity, useful contact numbers and an environmental notice amongst other aspects. The information leaflet will be published in the new year for members of Official Magnet Fishing Scotland to use when carrying out the activity.

“We are delighted to be working in partnership with Official Magnet Fishing Scotland to provide a safe and sought-after destination for their activity to take place. Scotland’s canals are there for everyone to enjoy and we are committed to working with responsible groups to create new and exciting opportunities across our network.

“We have been working closely with Official Magnet Fishing Scotland for some time and we are looking forward to welcoming them to the canal network which already attract over 20 million visits per year from walkers, cyclists, boaters, stand-up paddle boarders, kayakers and commuters.”

Catherine Topley, Chief Executive Officer of Scottish Canals

As custodians of these valuable working heritage structures, Scottish Canals has worked with Official Magnet Fishing Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland and Police Scotland to broker a ground-breaking agreement that will permit members of Official Magnet Fishing Scotland to enjoy this increasingly popular activity along stretches of Scotland’s canal network.

Calum Black, Chairman of Official Magnet Fishing Scotland said: “We are excited to be working with Scottish Canals and other partners to deliver the UK’s first magnet fishing agreement.

“We would like to thank Scottish Canals for their work and consultation with ourselves to make sure this is a success and reflects the aspirations of magnet fishers across Scotland. We will be submitting a scheduled monument consent application with the help of Scottish Canals and we hope to be out on the canals as soon as possible.”

In October 2020, several responsible magnet fishing groups from across the country merged together to form Official Magnet Fishing Scotland and become the UK’s first national body for the activity. The newly founded group has now entered a ground-breaking agreement with Scottish Canals that will see them apply for Scheduled Monument Consent from Historic Environment Scotland which will give the group permission to carry out the activity on the canal network.

Scotland’s canals are designated as Scheduled Monuments in recognition of the important part they played in the nation’s rich history, dating back to the Industrial Revolution. There are over 8,000 Scheduled Monuments in Scotland including Edinburgh Castle and the Roman Antonine Wall.

To carry out any work, including magnet fishing, on one of Scotland’s canals you must have Scheduled Monument Consent approval by Historic Environment Scotland. Official Magnet Fishing Scotland with the support of Scottish Canals will be submitting an application for consent to Historic Environment Scotland.

Barbara Cummins, Director of Heritage at Historic Environment Scotland (HES), said: “We welcome the news of the partnership between Scottish Canals and Official Magnet Fishing Scotland, and look forward to working with them to enable responsible magnet fishing on the scheduled canal network in a way that protects this important part of Scotland’s heritage”

Magnet fishing on a canal without Scheduled Monument Consent would be viewed as unauthorised work on a scheduled monument and could lead to fines of up to £50,000, as set out in Section 2 of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

You can find out more about magnet fishing on Scotland’s canal network here

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