The use of creels is used to catch langoustines, crabs and lobster. This technique is very “clean” in that it has little bycatch of unwanted species or undersize target animals. As this is a passive form of fishing almost everything taken in the creels is recovered alive and will have a discard survival rate close to 100%.
Creel fisheries have strict minimum landing sizes to prevent juveniles being targeted; those taken in the creels are released unharmed. In parts of the country fishermen have taken this one step further and have introduced restrictions on the landing of large female and male lobsters because these Animals make a proportionally greater contribution to spawning.
On release of any large female, her tail is “v-notched” to indicate that lobster has been caught and released. If caught again it is immediately identifiable as a good breeding animal and will be returned.
Similar schemes are in place which “v-notch” any berried (egg carrying) females caught, with these animals returned to the sea unharmed. In Scotland it is illegal for v-notched lobsters to be landed. Any fisherman caught doing so faces a hefty punishment.
In Orkney, fishermen have taken the further initiative of participating in the establishment of a lobster hatchery. Fishermen donate egg laden female lobsters to the hatchery where the larvae are collected and carefully grown on to around 5cm in size before being released into the wild to help supplement the wild stocks.