Shipping Study of the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters

A study of shipping activity to better inform the marine spatial plan pilot for the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Strategic Area. The aim of this process is to ensure there is good knowledge of the

use of these waters by all stakeholders so that futur

3. Methodology

The main tasks carried out by the project were as follows:

  • Literature review of published data
  • Initial consultation with key stakeholders to identify additional data
  • Taking stock of the available data
  • Shipping surveys of the area - winter and summer 2012 - to gather new information (Automatic Identification System ( AIS ))
  • Targeted questionnaire to fill in gaps in information
  • Stakeholder consultation workshops in Orkney and Caithness

Commercial shipping (vessels of 300 gross tonnes and over) density and movements have been characterised entirely by using the AIS shipping surveys.

Small vessel activity, such as recreational vessels, is only partially covered by AIS so this was the main focus of the consultation, questionnaire and workshops.

The availability of radar data was investigated at the outset of the study. OIC Marine Services operate a Vessel Traffic Services ( VTS ) from Scapa which receives data from a number of radar scanners in the area. Discussions with the VTS Manager indicated the data available were limited to counts of vessels rather than tracks, with targets being anonymous and the data being generally time-consuming to extract and work with. However, the VTS is being upgraded during 2012 to 13 with the addition of new scanners to extend coverage. Therefore, it is a potential source of data for any future updates of this work. This is discussed in Section 10.


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