Bait collection – the harvesting of organisms for use as bait for sea angling – has been an integral part of coastal life for generations. There are an estimated one million UK anglers fishing in the sea and tens of millions worldwide, all of whom rely on bait for fishing, with the vast majority collecting bait from the wild. In recent years, bait collection has become a highly contentious issue, often polarising anglers, local communities and those managing marine coastal resources; it has even led to incidents of intimidation and violence. Marine ecosystems face increasing threats from human activities and it is now recognised that management of bait collection is a high priority in coastal marine protected areas. This article looks at our current research on this topic and discusses how successful local management has been in meeting its objectives. Locally driven approaches also have high relevance for a diverse range of human impacts on the coast, from recreational activities to fishing. As the marine conservationists’ management toolbox is under ever-increasing financial pressure these types of schemes are likely to be increasingly used as they are often relatively cheap to implement and run.