The behaviour of fish by‐catch was recorded and characterized by in situ observations in the mouth of a crustacean trawl using an underwater camera system with artificial light, at depths between 106 and 461 m, along the central coast of Chile. The groups or species studied
were rattails (family Macrouridae), Chilean hake Merluccius gayi gayi, sharks (orders Carcharhiniformes and Squaliformes), skates (family Rajidae), flatfishes (genus Hippoglossina) and small benthopelagic and demersal fishes (orders Osmeriformes, Stomiiformes, Gadiformes, Ophidiiformes
and Perciformes). The fish behaviour was categorized in terms of (1) position in the water column, (2) initial orientation with respect to the trawl, (3) locomotion and (4) swimming speed with respect to the trawl. Rattails, sharks, skates and flatfishes were passive in response to the trawl
and showed similar behavioural patterns, with most fishes observed sitting or touching the bottom with no swimming or other activity. Merluccius gayi gayi was the most active species, displaying a wide combination of behavioural responses when the trawl approached. This species showed
several behavioural patterns, mainly characterized by swimming forward at variable speed. A fraction of small bentho‐pelagic and demersal fishes also showed an active behaviour but always at lower speed than the trawl. The species‐specific differences in behaviour in the mouth
of the trawl suggest that improvements at the level of the footrope can be made to reduce by‐catch, especially of passive species.