One of the main things that metal detectorists do is pick up trash. This is an environmental service, yet we are constantly accused of being looters, pot-holers, and trespassers. Usually the people who make these accusations are the ones who have some sort of vested interest in protecting their personal action. Contract archaeologists, that is, archaeologists who do their work for profit, get very upset when Johnny Detectorist comes along and preserves history at the personal level, simply for the love of it. Some of the history has monetary value, yes, and a few bad apples among us do tresspass, pot hole, and loot, but that is not the norm, nor the majority, not by a long shot. Attention is constantly being given to the odd case of abuse, while the vast majority of metal detectorists take the brunt, to become stigmatized and stereotyped.
Government has a lot to do with this too. I myself believe this is because the things that metal detectorists find are actually currency, and in many ways directly supplant modern currency. In this world of taxation as weaponry, this kind of thing, metal detecting and/or resurrecting old currencies, must be avoided lest it deteriorate the power of the paper. That is an idea I formulated long ago, although even THINKING about alternative currencies in this day and age is considered a no-no, and the tax enforcers called LAW enforcement will find ways to surveill and harass you if you do it.
A lot of what the metal detectorist does is simple salvage. Every day, in every country of the world, some sort of archaeological site is destroyed, meaning the strata the evidence lies in becomes disturbed. This is usually the result of modern construction, renewal. I have recorded this over and over again. If anything from situations like that gets saved, preserved, its usually because a so-called amateur comes out on their own time, for the love of history, or exercise, or both (Usually both) and takes the time to retrieve the artifacts using specialized and expensive equipment which they have financed personally. There are no government grants available to the metal detectorist for their work, in fact many detectorists get fined for doing what they do!
There is something not quite right about all that.
Below you will find images of my article entitled Lead Alert, from the mid 1990's, done for Western and Eastern Treasures magazine. This article highlights the fact that there is a huge amount of lead being deposited yearly at fishing sites by people whose fishing lines break due to snags on bottom obstructions. As a diver I have witnessed this myself, and many other divers have too. When submerged with my gear at any fishing area, nearly every bottom obstruction and rock is piled with lead sinkers. Algae and other flora grows there, the smaller fish feed there on the plants and other minute life, and of course the larger fish feed on the smaller fish. Its the way it is. Lead, being cumulative in its uptake within biological organisms, can and does accumulate in tissue, it gets carried onward.
And some people have Died from ingesting lead-tainted seafood. There may be a connection there.
Metal detectorists remove large amounts of lead from swimming and fishing areas, alongwith a God-awful bunch of trash which others leave strewn about because government makes no arrangements for trash disposal, and because many people are just plain pigs. These piggy people who leave their trash laying about have the corporate mind set, and it carries over into their lives. They do not see the mess they make, their eyes are attuned to their paychecks, to the exclusion of all else, even their own personal safety. Or so it seems to me, anyway.