Shipping in the north-east Atlantic: identifying spatial and temporal patterns of change

James R. Robbins*, Phil J. Bouchet, David L. Miller, Peter G.H. Evans, James Waggitt, Alex T. Ford, Sarah A. Marley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
1 Downloads (Pure)


Maritime traffic is increasing globally, with a four-fold increase in commercial vessel movements between 1992 and 2012. Vessels contribute to noise and air pollution, provide pathways for non-native species, and collide with marine wildlife. While knowledge of shipping trends and potential environmental impacts exists at both local and global levels, key information on vessel density for regional-scale management is lacking. This study presents the first in-depth spatio-temporal analysis of shipping in the north-east Atlantic region, over three years in a five-year period. Densities increased by 34%, including in 73% of Marine Protected Areas. Western Scotland and the Bay of Biscay experienced the largest increases in vessel density, predominantly from small and slow vessels. Given well-documented impacts that shipping can have on the marine environment, it is crucial that this situation continues to be monitored – particularly in areas designated to protect vulnerable species and ecosystems which may already be under pressure.
Original languageEnglish
Article number113681
Number of pages10
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Early online date12 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


  • Marine conservation
  • Marine protected area
  • Maritime traffic
  • Automatic identification system
  • Vessel density
  • Generalized additive model


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