Baited trap or pot fisheries are considered to have relatively few wider ecosystem effects on the marine environment, particularly when compared with towed mobile fishing gear. However, this assumption is rarely tested in the field. This study aimed to determine the composition of non-target species that occur in crustacean pots and to assess spatial and temporal differences in catches in the waters around the Isle of Man, Irish Sea. The data were collected using fishery independent surveys and a questionnaire study. Based on fishery independent surveys, a total of five taxonomic groups and 43 species occurred as by-catch. The dominant by-catch species was velvet crab Necora puber. The by-catch per unit effort (BPUE) for all of the non-target species was low particularly in comparison to towed bottom gear fisheries around the Isle of Man. BPUE of species composition varied considerably between different locations around the Isle of Man. The results of both the fishery independent and questionnaire data suggested that the by-catch rates varied with season with peak BPUE occurring in spring which then declined into autumn and winter. By-catch composition did not decrease significantly with an increasing target species catch. Overall, by-catch was low relative to target species catch which may be partially attributable to the use of escape panels in pot fisheries in the Isle of Man.
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