Vessel traffic and activity data for 2021 are now available on the Northeast Ocean Data Portal. These new vessel traffic datasets and interactive maps were developed in collaboration with our partners from the Marine Cadastre, who obtained the data from the U.S. Coast Guard and processed it for regional and other partners to use. The data were then used by Northeast Ocean Data to develop regional maps by vessel type. The same data will also be released via the Mid-Atlantic Ocean Data Portal. Partners from the U.S. Coast Guard and the maritime industry have also contributed valuable input at numerous presentations and briefings throughout the Northeast region, helping to guide how the data should be processed and presented to maximize their accuracy and usefulness. Additional presentations to the maritime community over the next year will help us to better understand the activity these maps depict and how the information could be used.
The 2021 data contribute to a growing library of annual and monthly vessel traffic data on the Portal, including 2011-2013 and 2015-2020. These data have multiple ocean planning and management applications, including as one component of the studies and analyses conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard for Waterways Management and Port Access Route Studies (PARS).
The new data are now available on the Marine Transportation Theme Map and on the Data Explorer map, where they can be overlaid with other types of data on ocean uses and marine life. Users can view data for all vessels together or select from multiple categories of vessels such as cargo, passenger, and tug-tow. On the Data Download page, the vessel traffic data can be downloaded for use in other applications.
As with vessel traffic data for prior years, the new data represent counts of total vessel transits in each category and can be viewed at both annual and monthly time-steps. The time slider tool in the Data Explorer enables users to advance vessel traffic maps month by month to see how traffic patterns for each vessel category change throughout the year.
The vessel traffic datasets are based on Automatic Identification System (AIS) data collected by the U.S. Coast Guard through onboard navigation safety devices that transmit and monitor the locations and characteristics of large vessels in U.S. and international waters. While AIS data often contain some errors such as vessels registered in an incorrect category, the Northeast Ocean Data maps show general patterns of vessel activity; for more information, see the metadata.
To download monthly or annual AIS data, visit the Data Download page and click on the Marine Transportation heading.