Press release

Cefas leads the marine "Open Data" revolution

Cefas making decades' worth of data freely available

Cefas Data Hub
Cefas Data Hub Launch

Decades’ worth of data revealing the health of our seas and marine wildlife, will be made freely available to the public for the first time, following the launch of a new ‘Data Hub’ today by the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas).

The Cefas Data Hub, an online portal allowing the public and UK businesses to explore, download and reuse the data for their own research, will be populated by hundreds of free marine datasets in the coming months.

The hub is being launched alongside newly released data on fish populations and climate change and is an important step in the #OpenDefra project, which will see the release of thousands of datasets over the year in the biggest government data giveaway the country has ever seen.

By opening up its extensive data vaults, Cefas will be helping to boost productivity and create opportunities for people and businesses whilst putting Britain at the forefront of the open data revolution.

Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said:

By opening up this data everyone from small-scale fishermen to global producers and marine academics will be able to access information that will give them in-depth knowledge about our seas so they can plan for tomorrow, today.

The potential of this data for the fishing industry and conservationists is huge. I urge innovators and entrepreneurs to come forward with ideas about how this can be used to help grow our thriving rural economy, protect and improve our natural environment and boost our world-leading food and fishing industry.

It’s vital that we fish sustainably and protect the marine environment to safeguard the long-term future of our fishing industry. That’s why we have to listen to the latest science to ensure our marine planning enables the next generation of fishermen and coastal communities to prosper.

Cefas CEO Tom Karsten said:

The launch of the Cefas Data Hub is a real opportunity to contribute to the open data revolution and shine a light on the increasingly important role Cefas plays in safeguarding the health of our seas and the nation’s supply of seafood, today and over the decades. The Data Hub has been developed entirely by our in-house experts and represents the wide breadth and depth of our technological innovation and marine science excellence.

The initial data release will include information collected from hundreds of surveys of UK seas using our Research Vessels, including Cefas Endeavour and also remotely operated platforms, such as the network of Cefas Smartbuoys. It also includes:

  • Fish and shellfish surveys to understand their population size
  • Crab tagging to help explain migration patterns from year to year
  • Temperature and salinity of UK sea waters to understand climate change impact

Tom Karsten added:

This data release programme has at its heart a commitment to making publicly funded data accessible to all, and it also provides an opportunity to work with others and develop new and innovative products and applications based on these open datasets.

Following this initial release, more data will be made available on an on-going basis and work will continue to develop the data publishing system. Cefas holds the second largest data reserve in Defra, following close behind the Environment Agency.

The Cefas Data Hub is formed of two key elements – the experts and the software system. A team of data specialists and practitioners have been brought together to combine the very latest expertise in data standards, storage, access, analysis and visualisation. Together with Cefas in-house software developers they have developed an on-line system to provide the public with a platform to interrogate, view and download open data in a variety of formats. Users will be able to browse data through interactive keywords, as well as performing their own text searches.


  1. The data released today is a first batch of 585 data sets, the majority representing Cefas’ legacy marine data collection. A full picture of Cefas marine data will be available next year, following a process of incremental data release. Data held on behalf of Cefas’ commercial clients will not be released. The Data Hub can be found on
Published 6 November 2015