European Commission logo
Energy, Climate change, Environment

Human Activities

Data on marine and maritime human activities are essential for effectively managing our seas and oceans in a sustainable way. This is becoming increasingly necessary due to growing population size and greater demand for resources, combined with advances in technology, resulting in a huge increase in the number and extent of marine and maritime human activities. These range from established activities such as fisheries and shipping to more recent activity such as construction of off-shore energy facilities. Whilst there is considerable data available on these activities it is often only available on a per country, regional or sector-by-sector basis.

Objectives of EMODnet Human Activities

The main objective of EMODnet Human Activities is to make available information on the geographical position, spatial extent and attributes of a wide array of marine and maritime human activities throughout Europe. Particular attention is given to providing, when possible, historical time series to indicate the temporal variation of activities such as fishing and port traffic. Time when data was provided together with attributes to indicate the intensity of each activity will also be included.

The portal allows users to view, query and download data and metadata from public and private sources – from throughout Europe - via a single entry portal. It will provide access to data that has been harmonised into interoperable formats and that includes agreed standards, common baselines or reference conditions and assessments of their accuracy and precision.

Key services provided by EMODnet Human Activities

Users can view, query, and download datasets or subsets of them, via web GIS. Metadata are also available for download. The portal (currently) offers access to the following datasets:

  • Aggregate Extraction
  • Algae Production
  • Aquaculture
  • Cables
  • Cultural Heritage
  • Dredging
  • Environment
  • Fisheries
  • Hydrocarbon Extraction
  • Main Ports
  • Nuclear Power Plants
  • Ocean Energy Facilities
  • Other Forms of Area Management/Designation
  • Pipelines
  • Shipping Density
  • Waste
  • Wind Farms


The portal is based on free, open-source technology, using both MapServer and OpenLayers. MapServer is used as the geographic data rendering engine. MapServer is designed to render vector and raster data using advanced cartographic output. OpenLayers is a map viewing library that provides a JavaScript API which makes it easy to incorporate maps from a variety of sources into a webpage or application and configure map tools. The portal uses MySQL database technology to hold and serve the GIS data. Web Feature Services will be used to allow request for geographical features across the web using platform-independent calls.

The data are aggregated and presented so as to preserve personal privacy and commercially-sensitive information. The data also include a time interval so that historic as well as current activities can be included.

Data sources

EMODnet Human Activities deals with a diverse set of marine and maritime human activities. As a result, data feeding into the portal comes from a multitude of public and private data sources at EU, international, national, and local level. Each partner of the consortium is in charge of surveying existing data sources for a given activity. The approach adopted is that, as far as possible, each activity should be covered by a single source that can provide data for all EU sea basins. This makes it possible to obtain complete and already harmonised datasets, thus reducing the risk of data gaps. When it is not possible to have a single source covering an entire activity, national and local sources are surveyed. In addition, as a general rule, EU and other public sources are obliged not to duplicate existing initiatives, to ensure data continuity and reliability, and to provide data with as few restrictions as possible.

EMODnet Human Activities product development

The Human Activities team are focusing on completing data collection, securing business continuity and streamlining data transmission through a Memorandum of Understanding with data sources, and developing interactive and user-friendly tools to query data from the map. At the same time, a continuous dialogue with key stakeholders has been established, in view of enhancing the user experience of the portal and providing important and useful data layers. This has led, inter alia, to the development of new data themes that weren’t originally included in Phase I and II (see below).

Improvements in EMODnet Human Activities in the current development phase III (2017-2020)

In the current EMODnet development Phase III and following extensive stakeholder consultation, Human Activities will provide access to vessel density maps and maritime spatial plans. Additional improvements will be implemented in the final development phase towards 2020; for that we welcome input and suggestions from users and stakeholders. Please contact if you would like to contribute to the development of EMODnet Human Activities or if you have suggestions and recommendations for further improvements.