The popular pastime of magnet fishing which shot to fame in Scotland during last year’s lockdown has now for the first time been given the greenlight to operate on Scotland’s canal network.

The national body for magnet fishing, Official Magnet Fishing Scotland, has been granted Scheduled Monument Consent (SMC) from Historic Environment Scotland which will allow the group to operate on Scotland’s canal network for the first time. This announcement will mean that members of the group can take to the canal network with their high-powered magnets to fish out metal objects and assist Scottish Canals in keeping the inland waterways clean.

In December 2020, the UK’s first magnet fishing agreement was signed between Scottish Canals and Official Magnet Fishing Scotland. The agreement sets out safe working practices and waste disposal policies when carrying out the activity along the canal network allowing those who are a member of Official Magnet Fishing Scotland to take to the canal and enjoy their hobby.

“At Scottish Canals we are delighted to be working with our partners to allow safe, responsible and accessible magnet fishing to take place along the historic canal network.

Magnet Fishing will have a positive impact on our network and this activity will help our operations staff ensure that our canals remain positive green and blue spaces for the people of Scotland and navigable for our boating customers.”

Catherine Topley, CEO of Scottish Canals

The initial area covered by the Scheduled Monument Consent is for Edinburgh and with further consent applications being submitted to Historic Environment Scotland for Inverness and Glasgow in the coming months.

Chairman of Official Magnet Fishing Scotland, Calum Black said: 

“On behalf of magnet fishers across the country we would like to thank Scottish Canals and Historic Environment Scotland for their determination to find a viable solution to magnet fishing. Over the last year magnet fishing has become hugely popular and the canal network has proven time and time again to be our members destination of choice.”

Scotland’s canals unlike many of their counterparts around the world are designated as a scheduled monument in recognition of the important part they have played in the nation’s history. The 200-year-old working monuments which once powered the industrial revolution and have seen the likes of Queen Victoria travel along the network in years gone by.

The heritage status of the canal network means that any work being carried out, including magnet fishing, on one of Scotland’s canals requires Scheduled Monument Consent from Historic Environment Scotland. The Scheduled Monument Consent protects the integrity of the structure and ensures that the monument is there to be used for generations to come.

Elly McCrone, Director of Heritage at Historic Environment Scotland (HES), said: 

“We have been working with Scottish Canals for many years to ensure the ongoing protection and management of Scotland’s historic canal network.

We are pleased to grant this consent which will enable the magnet fishing community to legally remove objects from the canal, helping to ensure the continued enjoyment and protection of this important piece of our heritage.”

In addition to the agreement, the UK’s first multi-agency magnet fishing information leaflet has been created in partnership with Scottish Canals, Historic Environment Scotland, Police Scotland, Scottish Heritage Crime Group, Treasure Trove and Zero Waste Scotland. The information leaflet will be the go-to document for any aspiring magnet fishers, the document sets out how to practice the activity safely, what to do with any finds of historic significance and how to manage waste.

To participate in magnet fishing along the canal network you must be a member of Official Magnet Fishing Scotland.

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