1.Although the use of exotic baits in recreational fisheries represents an increasing environmental threat for Mediterranean marine ecosystems, there is still little information about the commercialization and use of these baits, which makes it difficult to assess their potential impacts and establish specific management measures to tackle the threat that they pose.
2. This study analyses for the first time the commercialization and use of exotic species in recreational fishing in the Mediterranean, and the associated environmental and management implications. A multiple‐approach design has been used, including: a participatory survey to collect data and perceptions from local retailers and a national bait wholesaler on the environmental impacts of exotic baits; a biological study to identify taxonomically the commercialized bait species; and a bibliographic survey to gather information about the potential environmental impacts of the commercialization and use of exotic baits.
3. Results showed that, among the 13 different baits sold, only the polychaete group included three exotic species: Perinereis linea, Glycera dibranchiata, and Namalycastis rhodochorde. Furthermore, specimens of the sipunculid Sipunculus nudus, imported from South‐east Asia, should also be considered exotic.
4. The exotic species P. linea and G. dibranchiata were the two polychaete species most often used by sea anglers. These species were also the most sold by local retailers in the area and by Spain’s leading wholesaler.
5. Overall, anglers and local retailers were not fully aware of the potential negative impacts derived from the use of exotic species, and therefore appropriate management actions, including awareness activities, are discussed to better understand and manage the environmental impacts derived from exotic baits.