Pots and Traps - Brown Crab

Alternative names

  • Creels
  • Pots traps


Two main shapes of trap are used to target brown crabs. One is the inkwell shaped trap, with a plastic funnel entrance, that is favoured  by the larger vessels and the other the standard D shaped with entrances on each side or in the top. Different design of traps are favoured by fishermen in different parts of the UK. The D shaped creel with a parlour section is popular with some of the larger vessels, particularly on the East Coast of England.

Trap shaped in the design of an inkwell, with an open top entrance
An inkwell shaped trap with an open top entrance

Environmental impact

Crab pots and traps should have low environmental impact and seabed impact.

In certain circumstances there may well be instances of Ghost fishing of lost pots and traps but this can be minimised by using appropriate gear and release devices. One of the main causes of gear losses is the interaction of mobile gear with static gear. Nowadays the instances of this should be fewer due to the improvements in communication between different commercial fishing sectors and the ability to accurately monitor gear placement using GPS systems.

Fishing effort can be managed fairly easily by restricting the numbers of traps used by each vessel and monitoring the area fished.

By-catch is minimal and usually confined to small animals of the target species. This can be minimised by the use of appropriate mesh sizes in the cover netting and the use of relevant escape gaps. Any by-catch in the pots can be easily removed from the pot and released back into the sea immediately without harm.

Seabed impact with pots and traps is limited to light contact of the traps and minimal penetration of the seabed from the small anchors or weights that are used at the ends of the fleets of some gears. There may be some movement of the gear and the ropes on the seabed particularly in poor weather but this should not have much effect on the seabed.

Other information

One of the most common styles of pots used is the ‘D’ creel that is used throughout the UK to target lobster and crab by both inshore vessels and some of those working further offshore. These creels will be seen in many ports piled up on the quay ready for use when the season starts. Originally this style of creel would have been made with a wooden base and frame that was then covered in netting, creels of this style would use a stone or lump of concrete to weight them down and they are still used by some fishermen today.


Gear classification

Main target species (UK)

  • Brown Crab
  • Crabs
  • Lobsters

Possible bycatch

  • Crabs
  • Velvet crab
  • Lobster
  • Very little bycatch