Since ancient times, humans have taken to the sea for fishing, trading and transport. In modern times, the European seas are a major hub of maritime traffic. Knowledge of where the vessel traffic is taking place is pivotal for marine spatial planning (e.g. for offshore wind energy parks and subsea cables and pipelines) and for assessing the impact of human activities (e.g. fishing, offshore construction) on marine ecosystems.
In this map of the week, we are featuring a vessel density map, which shows the maritime traffic on the European seas in 2017. The vessel density is expressed as the number of hours per month that ships spent in each square kilometre. The map was calculated from a large dataset of Automatic Identification System (AIS) messages which contain the locations of the ship on-board transponders. This was done using a novel big data analysis workflow developed by EMODnet Human Activities.
The map reveals the main transport routes, fishing grounds and offshore construction sites. The European Atlas of the Seas also contains vessel density maps for each ship type (e.g. cargo, fishing, dredging and underwater ops and others) allowing you to see where these different activities are taking place.
The data in this map were provided by EMODnet Human Activities