Fishing with traps is a method of catching fish that goes back to ancient times, although the willow that was used in the past to make crab and lobster pots has been replaced with modern materials, including steal bars for the frames and synthetic netting for the coverings.
The familiar pots in the UK are used for fishing mainly brown crab, spider crab and lobster, and a different type of pot is used for fishing whelks. The method is to place strings of pots in what the skipper’s intuition and experience tell him are suitable places, and to return to them later to haul the pots and retrieve the catch from them. Conical (inkwell) pots with an entrance on top are in widespread use, as are the rectangular parlour pots with entrances placed in the top. Pots are baited to attract the target species, with the bait held in a bag inside the pot to encourage crabs and lobsters to seek it out. While synthetic bait types have been tried, in general pots baited with fish that been bought for the purpose or with offcuts from fish processing. In UK waters crab and lobster fishing is fisheries that are not regulated by quotas. Instead, larger vessels are limited in the number of days they can fish, while smaller boats are in practice limited by the weather, especially during the winter months when there can be long intervals between spells of weather good enough for fishing. Crabs and lobsters are landed live to processors and auctions, or for direct export to overseas markets.