New tool to map fishing activities in Europe

Feb 05, 2016


Fisheries areas with higher intensity are marked by grades of violet, with darker tonality showing higher fishing activity.© EU, 2015
A new tool developed by the JRC provides for the first time detailed maps of high intensity fisheries areas in 2014-2015 in Europe. Thanks to tracking data of fishing vessels, it is possible to derive information about the fishing habits of coastal communities and to know, for example, which are the areas where they fish more frequently. This information is crucial to tailor policy and management strategies to boost blue growth, the EU strategy for a more profitable and sustainable exploitation of marine and maritime resources.The new tool mapping fishing activities (MFA) uses for the first time tracking data from the Automatic Identification System (AIS) – used worldwide to identify and locate vessels thorough data exchange with other nearby ships, AIS base stations, and satellites – to analyse the relations between fishing communities and fishing areas at high level of geographical detail at EU-wide scale.The data used in this tool consists of around 150 million positions from EU fishing vessels above 15 m in length in the period between September 2014 and September 2015.The MFA includes several layers of geographical information and a high-resolution map of fishing intensity covering all EU waters. Information on the position of vessels in relation to areas of high fishing intensity and in the surrounding of ports is aggregated into a dependency index which represents the gravitation of coastal communities towards specific fishing grounds and other ports.Until recently such analyses have been based on highly aggregated figures from administrative sources such as the logbooks and the Vessel Monitoring System (VMS), which have been introduced to control fishing. The MFA relies on open source data from the AIS which, while not suitable for a systematic control of potentially illegal fishing, is more accessible and offers new possibilities for research.
Read more on Eurpean Commission Site.