Magnet fishing is to be allowed on Scottish canals from Saturday in what is being described as a UK first.
The national body, Official Magnet Fishing Scotland, has been granted scheduled monument consent (SMC) from Historic Environment Scotland (HES) which will allow the pastime on the canal network for the first time.
Members of the group will now be able to use their high-powered magnets on Scottish canals to fish out metal objects while also helping keep the inland waterways clean.
Elly McCrone, HES director of heritage, 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.”
The initial area covered by the SMC is for Edinburgh with further consent applications being submitted for Inverness and Glasgow in the coming months.
Without the consent, magnet fishing in a canal is considered as unauthorised work on a scheduled monument and could lead to fines of up to £50,000.
Catherine Topley, Scottish Canals chief executive, said: “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.”
The UK’s first magnet fishing agreement was signed between Scottish Canals and Official Magnet Fishing Scotland in December last year which set out safe working practices and waste disposal policies.
Calum Black, chairman of the group, 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.”