Pots or inkwells are becoming the most important method for catching brown crab in Scottish waters. Their construction varies, but typically will be of plastic piping frames with a netting cover and plastic ‘bucket’ entrance with a heavy plastic matrix base. The stanchions, base and top area are protected with either rope or old car tyre. A bait band formed by a rubber cross section of car inner tube is placed around the outside wall of the entry bucket, where portions of bait are held in place away from the outside walls of the pot.

Parlour Pot



Inkwell type pot 

Creels may be worked in both inshore and offshore waters and offshore vessels typically haul more than 700 creels per day. Some species such as langoustines are best kept in seawater, so vessels may be fitted with storage deck tanks. These tend to operate on a daily basis, returning to port each night and storing catches in large ‘keep’ boxes on a permanent mooring to await a weekly collection.

Inshore boats are typically 7 to 10m in length, and fish primarily for lobster and velvet crab, with limited catches of langoustines and brown crab. The number of creels operated varies from 100 to 400. Velvet and langoustine hard eye gear is usually hauled each day, with the lobster gear hauled every few days. Due to the physical size of these boats, operation is highly weather dependant.

Larger potting vessels have become more common in Scottish waters in recent years. The vessels are either migratory, from areas such as the Channel Islands or south coast, or are based in Scottish ports such as Stornoway. These vessels, commonly known as ‘Super-Crabbers’ are between 15 to 20m in length and have pumped vivier holds which can keep the catch alive for many days. The pots are worked in fleets or ‘strings’ with up to 120 individual pots on one string, placed 15 to 20 fathoms apart. A vessel may work up to 20 strings, but 10 to 14 is more usual, with each string lifted on a daily basis where possible. The areas fished are usually the waters to the west and north of Scotland such as the Butt of Lewis and around the Orkney Isles.

Click to view the environmental impacts of this catching method

Potential Impacts (Biological/Environmental) Gear Selectivity Regulation


• Unrestricted gear type leading to high localised fishing effort

• Lost gear can continue to fish for significant time period (ghost fishing)


• Minimal

• Design of 'eye'

• Type of bait

• Type of ground where set

• Size of mesh

• Seasonal and local prohibited areas preventing or restricting use of creels/pots.


Improvement measures and initiatives taken by Scottish Fishermen

• Creel fishermen have started to trial the use of escape panels on the sides of creels as an extra measure to allow quick and easy escape of small specimens.

• The use of hard eye creel entrances can aid eventual escape and help reduce ghost fishing mortalities from lost gear. Use of biodegradable twine in the construction of creels can also eliminate ghost fishing.

• Fleets can be set with weak links or breakaway lines to help minimise the entrapment of marine mammals.

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