Using AIS to inform Marine Spatial Planning and marine

Slide 1
Using AIS to inform Marine Spatial Planning
and marine industries
Richard L. Shelmerdine and Rachel J. Shucksmith
AIS background
The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) require all marine vessels over
300 gross tonnage on an international voyage, all cargo vessels greater than
500 gt, and all passenger vessels irrespective of size to be fitted with an
Automatic Identification System (AIS)1. AIS is a shipboard transponder which
automatically transmits vessel information, through VHF, as a ship to ship or
ship to shore signal. Transmitted data includes information on the vessel
identity (mmsi number), position, speed, course, vessel type, dimensions, and
other information as outlined by Ou and Zhu2.
Marine Scientist
NAFC Marine Centre,
Shetland, ZE1 0UN
[email protected]
Marine Spatial Planning Manager
NAFC Marine Centre,
Shetland, ZE1 0UN
[email protected]
Shetland Island’s Marine Spatial Plan
The Shetland Island’s Marine Spatial Plan (SMSP) was developed by the
NAFC Marine Centre through funding from Marine Scotland. It is one of
the most advanced Marine Spatial Plans in Europe with the 4th edition
launched in 2014.
Shetland Islands Council will adopt the fourth edition of the SMSP (Fig 3)
as ‘Supplementary Guidance’ to the emerging Shetland Local
Development Plan in 2014. The Shetland Local Development Plan,
together with any Supplementary Guidance, sets out the policies and
criteria against which planning applications and works licenses submitted
in Shetland will be considered.
An increasing number of marine users have recognized the benefits of having
an AIS system fitted aboard their vessels which has resulted in a large
quantity of available vessel data ranging from large oil tankers to pleasure
craft and sailing ships. The European Commission has additionally stated
that all fishing vessels greater than 15 m in length must be equipped with an
AIS system by 31st May 20143.
Figure 1. Point data received during 2013 from all vessels
using AIS.
The SMSP provides an overarching policy framework to guide marine
development and activity out to 12 nautical miles. It incorporates
authoritative spatial data on the marine environment, its various uses, and
The policies and maps in the SMSP
will be material considerations in
marine planning applications and
works licenses within Shetland’s
coastal and marine waters. It is
hoped the SMSP will also provide a
useful resource for all users of the
Since December 2012, the NAFC Marine Centre has collated and processed
vessel information, obtained from vessel AIS data feeds. All signals were
obtained from a single antenna positioned in central mainland Shetland. Data
was downloaded as a text file, processed, quality controlled, and combined
with a bespoke vessel database before further processing and analysis in
ArcGIS. The primary output in GIS was a point dataset (Fig 1). Additional
information, derived from Fig 1, included vessel tracks (Fig 2), density
mapping (Slide 2), interpolations, and connectivity maps (Slides 2 and 3).
Figure 3. SMSP front cover
Figure 2. Vessel tracks, derived from point data, for all vessel
signals received during 2013.
1 Anon. (2012); SOLAS Chapter V Safety of Navigation. International Maritime Organisation (IMO). p. 29.
2 Ou Z, Zhu J. (2008); AIS database powered by GIS technology for maritime safety and security. Journal
of Navigation 61: 655-65.
3 The EU system for fisheries controls. Accessed on 5th July 2014 from:
Slide 2
Density by vessel type
National scale
Lerwick, on Shetland’s east coast, had the highest density
of cargo traffic entering the harbour from the south
entrance. A high density of traffic was also noted around
Scalloway, Shetland’s west coast. Distinct cargo routes
were identified passing the Islands to the northeast,
southwest, and west.
High densities of fishing vessels display the fishing
grounds, common routes to the grounds, and entry to the
main harbours of Lerwick and Scalloway. Traditionally
VMS has been used to map fishing grounds but AIS
provides a higher resolution output, includes international
vessels, has no ownership restrictions, and provides
information on vessel transit routes.
Figure 4. Vessel track information.
Vessel types, tracks, and densities
When examined by vessel type entering the 12 nm
limit during 2013 (Fig 6), 29% were related to the oil
industry (both oil related vessels and tankers),
followed by fishing (27%), cargo (20%), and pleasure
(12%). Vessel tracks (Fig 4) were derived from point
data enabling density maps (Fig 5) to be created for
all traffic and for each vessel category type.
Oil related vessels
Oil related
A high density of traffic was recorded through the north
entrance to Lerwick harbour as well as Scalloway in the
west. Vessels using Lerwick were found to access oil
fields, displayed as high offshore densities, on both sides
of Shetland.
Oil/chemical tankers
The highest tanker densities were located at Sullom Voe
and the approach to Sullom in the north, Lerwick harbour,
and a known anchorage to the south of Lerwick harbour.
Much of the traffic remained outside the 12 nm limit
although a clear transit route was visible between Fair
Isle and the southern tip of Shetland mainland.
Law and rescue
Figure 6. Vessel type for all vessels found within 12
nm of Shetland.
This category includes both ferries and seasonal cruise
liners. The high densities are mostly related to interisland ferries showing their most frequent path but also
the outer limits for each route. This information was used
to refine ferry routes within the SMSP.
Figure 5. Density maps derived from vessel track information.
Figure 7. The offshore supply ship Fugro Symphony
leaving Scalloway harbour.
Slide 3
Last country visited
International scale
The majority of cargo vessels originated
from Europe with the greatest number
originating from Germany (n=133
Countries as far afield as UAE, north
Africa, and USA were also connected.
The majority of fishing vessels’ last port
was from UK. Last countries visited
included Norway (n=52), Denmark
(n=24), Ireland (n=14), and Iceland
Figure 7. Last country visited before entering the 12 nm limit
around Shetland.
Oil related vessels
Vessels coming within 1 nm of Shetland
had a recorded last country visited of
Norway (n=68), Netherlands (n=50),
Faroe (n=6), and USA (n=2). Panama
was recorded 41 times for vessels
coming within 6 nm.
Oil/chemical tankers
Outside UK, Netherlands had the most
recorded last port calls of 188 followed
by Germany (n=53) and Poland (n=38).
Most visits originated around mainland
Europe but also Faroe (n=4), Iceland
(n=2), North Antilles (n=3), and USA
Vessel origins and destinations
Vessels entering the 12 nm limit around Shetland, over one year,
originated from 152 ports in 26 different countries around the
World (Fig 7). Countries were mostly centred around the North
Sea but did span as far as United Arab Emirates and Puerto Rico.
Of the 1212 different vessels recorded within 12 nm of Shetland,
231 usable destinations were recorded in 23 different countries
around the World (Fig 8). The majority of destinations were
located within Great Britain but were also spread as far as Panama
and Guyana in South America, and Nigeria and Côte d’Ivoire in
west Africa.
Risk mapping
As part of the biosecurity plan for Shetland, risk modelling was
carried out to identify areas of relative risk of the introduction of
invasive non-native species (INNS). Modelling was based on
potential vectors (hull biofouling and ballast water exchange) and
stepping stones (e.g. marine renewables, aquaculture sites, shore
access points), allowing targeted monitoring for INNS. Vessel
information, through AIS,
was essential for providing
identifying where shipping
was coming from (Fig 7),
going to (Fig 8), and
combined with vessel type
information (Slide 2). The
combined output was then
mapped for Shetland as a
relative risk map (Fig 9).
Figure 8. Destinations of vessels leaving the 12 nm limit
around Shetland.
With the exception of one vessel
originating from Puerto Rico and six from
Faroe, the last country visited by
passenger vessels were located around
the North Sea with seven vessels having
a recorded last port in Norway.
Figure 9. Relative risk map.

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