Magnetic anglers are not allowed to fish in the pond of the Maria Hendrikapark in Ostend for the time being. Two youngsters caught dozens of detonators from bombs there this week.

Magnetic anglers use a strong magnet to remove special metal objects from the water. Mayor of Ostend Bart Tommelein (Open VLD) thinks it’s too dangerous to do this in the pond of the Maria Hendrikapark: “Apparently the pond of the Maria Hendrikapark is a place where ammunition was dumped in the past. What the magnetic fishermen have found is very dangerous ammunition. We are now having all these explosives removed by DOVO, the de-mining service of the army”.

Miel Dekien and Viktor Huyghe started it a few years ago in their hometown Adinkerke. “We bought magnet fishing gear , threw it in the water and immediately pulled up a bicycle. We then thought: hmm, there could be more in the canal”.

It wasn’t the first time the two explosives were caught. “We’ve already found airplane bombs and grenades. We thought we could assess the danger of this, but when DOVO came to the scene, we were shocked. They couldn’t really laugh about it either. We soon realized that we shouldn’t have done that. We really didn’t know it was so dangerous. Imagine a child of 12 years old buying a big magnet and going fishing in the Maria Hendrikapark … It’s a good thing that it’s closed now and there’s a ban”, says Dekien.

Lesson learned

Dekien and his friend go magnetic fishing everywhere in West Flanders. “If we find waste like bicycles or traffic signs, we put that aside and inform the municipality that will come and collect it. If we pick up another bomb, we leave it and immediately call the police. We’ve learned our lesson”, he laughs.