A MAGNET fishermen who pulls scrap from canals and waterways around Newport, Cwmbran and Pontypool has said that the more unusual finds such as knives, guns and a machete are not the reason he does what he does.

Magnet fishing involves throwing a strong magnet attached to a rope into a river or canal and retrieving the metal scrap from the bottom.

Darren Rice took it up as a hobby around a year ago, with friend Paul Sparey, using magnets obtained online.

"I got a strong magnet off the internet – online magnets.com," he said.

"One can lift 1,000kg, one can lift 1,600kg.

"Some of the stuff we find is unbelievable."

During his time fishing around Newport, Cwmbran and Pontypool, Mr Rice has fished out unusual items such as knives, a machete and a gun.

However, he says that finds like these are not the reason he took up the hobby.

"We go out to clean the community up," he said.

"My mate’s a scrap man, everything we find we give to him."


He said that any weapons found are handed in to the police as soon as they were identified as such.

Rob Heathcock runs a Facebook page called Dippers and Scrappers - a directory of scrap collectors from across the UK and even some in the USA.

He said that nobody "goes out to find bombs and things like that".

These finds may grab the headlines, but he said they also come with inconvenience.

"It’s about cleaning the waterways," he said.

"That’s true magnet fishing. Nobody wants to find bombs.

"That results in street closures and the bomb squad being called in."

Mr Heathcock said that since setting up the page he had seen the level of scrap at the side of waterways decreasing.

As well as being good for mental health, Mr Rice also said that pulling the scrap from the waterways was good for the environment.

"It’s doing the wildlife some good," he said.

"The community have been very supportive."

He also urged anyone looking to take up the hobby, to "please take whatever you find with you, or contact a scrap man to take it away".