Christian Grenier, co-president of Métaleux Detector 91. – F. Pouliquen / 20 Minutes

  • Screws, nails, iron bars, bicycles, motorcycles… It’s crazy how much we can get out of the bed of our rivers by indulging in magnet fishing, a practice that is back in fashion. , in recent times, especially for some for an ecological purpose
  • But the practice is not without risks, the magnets being able to hang as well of the scrap metal as old ammunition of war. Magnet fishing is therefore subject to authorization from the prefectures.
  • This results in a legal vagueness, the practice being authorized in some departments, prohibited in others, which does not prevent individuals from engaging in it anyway. In Essonne, the Métaleux Detector are trying to clarify all this

“Not sure that we find much in this part of the river,” warn, almost apologetically, Christian Grenier and Jérôme L’Hôpital. The two co-chairs of Métaleux Detector 91 have met at the edge of an arm of the Essonne which passes behind a pretty condominium in
Boutigny-sur-Essonne. We can easily imagine the area rich in fish. But for what the two men like to seek in the bottom of rivers, nothing is less certain.

Christian Grenier and Jérôme L’Hôpital take out their magnets all the same, two cylinders 7.5 cm in diameter with two magnetic sides and a force of 400 kg. “Finally dry,” says Christian Grenier. In water, two-thirds of their power must be removed. Hanging on the end of a rope, they are thrown blindly in various places of the river.

Iron bars, a metal rail, screws and nails for parquet floors

A strange ballet that will eventually pay off. In twenty minutes, the two men will bring back to the bank four iron bars, a metal rail, a metal part which could have been a belt buckle, but so damaged by long years underwater that Christian Grenier did not would not put his hand to cut. And then nails and screws in bundles.

In the end, a nice magnet fishing trip. Although, Christian Grenier qualifies this booty “simple appetizers”, with regard to the waste of all kinds that magnet sinners can bring back to the banks, sometimes with much larger magnets.

Christian and Jérôme estimate at 30 tons the quantity of scrap thus recovered by Métaleux Detector 91 since the creation of the association, in April 2018. Let’s move on to the most unusual object – “a vibrator caught by its metal base” – , the two men especially remember this 220 kg motorbike, caught with a magnet and a grapple, not far from Boutigny, and which they had all the trouble in the world to reassemble. Or this afternoon of fishing at Ballancourt, 15 km away, when the association had collected 960 kg of metal waste of all kinds in one afternoon. “We were at the entrance to a very busy park, people couldn’t believe what we got out of the water,” says Christian Grenier. There were industrial stairs, traffic signs, barriers, and even pieces of wagons, presumably from an old factory nearby. “

Magnet fishermen with an ecological vocation?

Magnet fishing is not a new practice. Christian Grenier and Jérôme L’Hôpital situate the beginnings in the immediate post-war period, “when, driven by the fear of a new conflict, teenagers sought to recover weapons thrown in the waterways with magnets from above. -speakers. Magnet fishing then went through a great slump before rebounding, again according to Métaleux Detector 91, at the start of the 2010s, mainly in Eastern Europe. “It is mainly collectors who have brought it up to date,” explains Jérôme L’Hôpital, “the idea being to find military remains. “We then come to 2014 and the story of Dany and Benjamin, two cousins ​​who had taken the habitto throw magnet and grapple into the port of Le Havre in order to clean it up. An initiative that will catch the eye of the municipality, to the point of setting up a cooperation to recover the waste brought back from the bottom of the water.
The ecological magnet fishing was born. It is in this perspective that the Métaleux Detector 91 want to register today, with the particular concern of leaving nothing on the banks once the fishing trip is over. “Either the municipality where we fish agrees to collect the waste taken out of the water, or I bring it home, then take it little by little, with my personal card, to the waste reception center”, insists Chrisitian Grenier.

A practice that is not without risk

The code of conduct for any magnet fisherman? “Not always, precisely, regrets Victorien Desserprit, vice-president of the” European responsible prospecting organization, which seeks to federate magnet fishing associations. Many – and often the most popular on the internet – see magnet fishing as an opportunity to embark on a scavenger hunt, although it is very rare to stumble upon safes. And they do so in disregard of the risks involved and without respecting the basic rules. “

Because magnet fishing can turn into an accident. In May 2019, in Ferrière-La-Grande, a man was seriously injured by mustard gas escaping from a shell fished with a magnet. A few weeks later, in Hem-Monacu, in the Somme, two young
brought up a phosphorus grenade and suffered eye irritation. Last June, in Angoulême, on the banks of the Charente, other magnet fishermen were surprised to put together a pinned checkered grenade and then a shell, reported The Charente Libre.

And it’s not just weapons and old ammunition. Contacted by 20 Minutes, the prefecture of Essonne also cites the risk of leakage of an incendiary product that can lead to self-ignition or even a toxic product. Result: the prefectures regularly raise their voice, up to, for some,
make decrees clearly prohibiting the practice. For its part, the prefecture of Essonne recalls the general rule governing magnet fishing *: “For watercourses, lakes, rivers, rivers, canals, authorization from the State, owner of the property. submarines [autrement dit de tout ce que les pêcheurs à l’aimant vont ramasser au fond de l’eau] is required. Besides the agreement, this also implies a commitment of responsibility. “

Suspended from the prefects’ agreements

Christian Grenier and Jérôme L’Hôpital know this well. “Clearly, you need the agreement of the prefect, representative of the State in the region”, they summarize. Certain associations obtain them without great difficulty in certain departments. This is the case of Fishing Blind Magnet whose president, Jean-Philippe Brasier, explains that he has the authorization of the prefect of Sarthe. “We also have those of the departmental councils of Mayenne and Maine-et-Loire, which also allows us to fish in these two departments”, he explains.

In Ile-de-France, it is much more complicated, tell the Métaleux Detector 91, who face either the refusal or the silence of the authorities in the various departments of the region. From then on, the association only very sporadically practices magnet fishing. And Christian Grenier, him, fulminates by observing more and more people practicing without worrying about obtaining any authorization and without being worried. “At the beginning of June, a television report even showed a 10-year-old child fishing with a magnet on the banks of the Seine with his father,” he explains. I don’t think he had any authorization and his safety equipment was incomplete. “

A legislative framework to be specified

This is the whole battle of Christian Grenier and Jérôme Lhopital, which they lead with the European Organization for responsible prospecting. That of specifying the legislation on magnet fishing, by authorizing it only to associations. “We would then ensure the best possible supervision of practice,” explains Chrisian Grenier. At Métaleux Detector, for example, we wrote a safety protocol that details all the rules to follow when munitions of war are brought to the surface. We also have insurance that covers all of our members in the event of an accident. They also say they are open to the establishment of specific magnet fishing periods in the year, to avoid disturbing the fauna during the reproduction and nesting phase.

On July 8, the association was received by the prefecture of Essonne on this subject. “As of the next school year, a new meeting is planned, in particular on the establishment of river cleaning sites, marked and scheduled, and which would be done with the authorization of the waterways service of France, managers of trade unions. rivers and identified officials ”, indicates the prefecture to 20 Minutes.

A prospect far from satisfying the Métaleux Detector 91. “We have the impression that they want to restrain us,” says Christian Grenier. We would only intervene when and where the authorities wish. Not sure that it is at this rate that we will be able to clean up the waterways. “

* In detail, the rules for magnet fishing are identical to those governing the detection of buried objects, explains the prefecture of Essonne.

  • On private land (forests, land, wells, ponds, etc.), the owner’s authorization is required. If the object of fishing is to search for an object of interest to History, Prehistory, art or archeology, the authorization of the prefect is compulsory.
  • For watercourses, lakes, rivers, streams, canals, the authorization of the State, owner of the underwater property, is required. Besides the agreement, this also implies a commitment of responsibility.