Is magnet fishing legal in the UK?

is magnet fishing legal in the UK
Is magnet fishing legal in the UK?

The legality of magnet fishing in the UK is not as straight forward as in the US. While there are no laws against magnet fishing in the UK, certain bye-laws prohibit it in certain places. This article will explain the legalities of magnet fishing in different parts of the UK.

Is Magnet Fishing legal on canals and rivers in the UK?

In the UK the government has no law banning magnet fishing. Therefore, magnet fishing is not illegal in the UK. However, the Canal and River trust’s General Canal Byelaws of 1965 section 41, part (d) states “No person unless authorised by the Board in that behalf or otherwise legally entitled so to do shall: Dredge or remove coal or other material from any canal “. This means unless you can get permission from the Canal and River Trust, it is restricted to go magnet fishing on public canals and rivers in the UK. This bye-law is enforced by a £25 fine.

However, there are no recorded cases of anyone being told to stop magnet fishing on canals or rivers, or of the £25 fine being enforced. It is up to you to interpret this however you want. Many people see it as a legal grey area and go magnet fishing anyway. They might just be trying to avoid liability issues. Here is a recent statement by the canal and river trust.

Is magnet fishing legal in the sea and in lakes in the UK?

Magnet fishing is legal in seas and lakes in the UK.  Make sure you are considerate to other people that are around, and do not go magnet fishing near swimmers or fishermen. This can be dangerous for both you and them. You should also avoid going magnet fishing at times that have heavy boat traffic (locations that have a lot of boat traffic are good for magnet fishing, just do it at less busy times)

Is magnet fishing legal on private property in the UK?

Magnet fishing is legal on private property in the UK. If you are magnet fishing from private property, make sure you have permission to be there. Many farmers and landowners will appreciate the fact that you are cleaning out the water on their land, but make sure to ask first.

Wells are also a great place to go magnet fishing. In a canal or river, items can be carried downstream by the current. This can’t happen in a well, meaning whatever has been thrown down there over the years is probably still in there. Wells are common hiding places for things people didn’t want to be found. A lot of potential finds may have accumulated in them over the years.


Magnet fishing is legal in the UK. It is restricted by the Canal and River trust on the basis of it being too dangerous. If you want to find out more about the dangers of magnet fishing, click here. Despite this, magnet fishing is allowed in seas, wells, ponds and on private property. Here are a few key points to take away from this article:

  • Only go magnet fishing on private property if you have permission from the landowner
  • No matter where you go magnet fishing, be respectful to people around you
  • If you are told to stop magnet fishing by a person of authority you should comply
  • Don’t go magnet fishing near people that are swimming or fishing
  • Avoid magnet fishing at busy time

If you found this article helpful, and want to find out more about magnet fishing, feel free to check out our Ultimate Magnet Fishing Guide.