The charity which manages the UK’s waterways has ‘very real concerns’ over magnet fishing in the city, after the rise in dangerous objects, including unexploded munitions, being pulled from Leicester’s waterways.
The Canal and River Trust, which manages 2,000 miles of waterways of the UK, including the River Soar and the Grand Union Canal, has appealed with people to not try and retrieve objects from the water.
The charity emphasised that the practice is ‘not allowed’ on waterways, and they have serious concerns about safety.
A spokesman for the charity said: “We recognise that people may think that magnet fishers are helping us out but magnet fishing is actually not allowed on our waterways and we have very real concerns about the safety of doing it.
“Items dragged out of the water can be sharp or heavy and, as we’ve seen so many times in Leicester, those fishing don’t know what’s beneath the surface of the water.”
As well as concerns for the safety of the magnet fishers themselves, there are also more concerns about the risk the pastime poses to the public.
The spokesman added ‘increasing amounts’ of unwanted metal is being left on towpaths across the UK, which is believed to be as a result of magnet fishing.
He said: “It’s left to us, a charity, along with the city council to go out each week clearing up the tonnes of rusty and sharp metal that have been left behind.
“And of course it’s very rarely possible to get a vehicle to where the items have been left so our teams are having to carry it long distances.”
Magnet fishing is done over the bridges in Leicester, which the spokesman said also poses a danger to boaters who may be passing underneath.
Almost every week, an area of the city is force to be cordoned off while emergency services deal with yet another object being pulled from the river.
On Sunday this week, yet another device was retrieved from the water, leading to one of the main routes into the city – St Augustine Road – being cordoned of, and the bomb squad to be called in.
This lead to severe delays for residents in Leicester, and prompted the chief constable of Leicestershire Police to tweet about the ongoing problem.
The tweet read: “Another example of munitions being fished out by magnet fishing.
“Leicester City Centre Neighbourhood Policing are working with the Canal and River Trust and the city council to find a solution to this issue that doesn’t require the bomb disposal team, us and shutting off parts of the city for public safety.”
Talks are reportedly in the early stages, and no decisions on the issue have been made yet.
The Canal and River Trust spokesman stressed that any recommendations that might be made will be entirely for the safety of the public.
He said: “We really don’t want to spoil anyone’s fun or dampen their interest in the waterways but magnet fishing presents clear safety hazards to those taking part and others, spoils other people’s enjoyment of their local waterways and needlessly drains the resources of ourselves, local authorities, the police and bomb squad.”
Leicester City Council has also been contacted for comment.