ICES and NAFO statistical areas viewed in Google Earth

[This article was first published on fishvice, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers]. (You can report issue about the content on this page here)
Want to share your content on R-bloggers? click here if you have a blog, or here if you don't.

On the ICES Spatial Facility webpage one can obtain a view of the ICES statistical areas. Now since the projection used is more than a bit misleading I was wandering how these statistical areas would look like in Google Earth. Thankfully the shapefiles associated with these rectangles are available to download  from the web page. What follows is less than a bare bone code to convert the shape files into kml files. Except that a bit of a thinning of the spatial codes was needed because the original shapefiles are very detailed for some of the coastal areas resulting in very nonsmoothed zooming etc. in Google Earth. While doing this I also included the NAFO areas. Since I also wanted to see the EEZ on top of this I include a code to convert EEZ shapefiles to kml. The EEZ data were downloaded from the VLIZ Maritime Boundaries Geodatabase.

Before running the code below, one needs to download the necessary data onto the local machine and extract the data from the zipped file into a working directory (not needed for NAFO areas – is included in the code below). Once this has been done the following code was used to convert the data into Google Earth format:

# gpclibPermit() # may be needed
# ices areas
ices_areas = readOGR('ices_areas.shp','ices_areas')
ices_areas <- thinnedSpatialPoly(ices_areas,tolerance=0.04) # takes some time
# world eez
eez <- readOGR('World_EEZ_v6_1_simpliefiedcoastlines_20110512.shp',
writeOGR(eez, "eez.kml", "eez", driver="KML")
# nafo areas
nafo_areas <- readOGR('NAFOdivisions.shp','NAFOdivisions')

Now one only needs to open the  kml files (ices_areas.kml, nafo_area.kml and eez.kml, located in the working directory) in Google Earth. If there are problems with downloading or running the scripts I provide the ices_areas.kmlnafo_areas.kml and eez.kml via my Public Dropbox space (there is also a depth contour in the E-Greenland, Iceland Faero Is. region, see nwwgDepth.kml)
As said, this is very much a bare bone attempt but at least describes the essence of getting a GE view of the ICES and NAFO statistical areas. Zooming in and out is a breeze and by clicking on an area some statistics show up. A snapshot of the broad view as presented in the projection on the ices page vs. the one provided in Google Earth are shown for comparisons. The global EEZ are a bonus 🙂

To leave a comment for the author, please follow the link and comment on their blog: fishvice. offers daily e-mail updates about R news and tutorials about learning R and many other topics. Click here if you're looking to post or find an R/data-science job.
Want to share your content on R-bloggers? click here if you have a blog, or here if you don't.

Never miss an update!
Subscribe to R-bloggers to receive
e-mails with the latest R posts.
(You will not see this message again.)

Click here to close (This popup will not appear again)