North Sea Fishing

This infographic illustrates the amount of fish caught in the North Sea by different national fleets. Fishing boats from the United Kingdom land a fifth of all the fish caught. Peterhead in North East Scotland is the busiest fishing port in the UK landing 159,000 tonnes of fish in 2014, which is three times as much as any other port in the country.

The size of the fishing fleets and the estimated weight of fish and shellfish landed is identified for each country using symbols. The infographic uses an ISOTYPE design technique, where each symbol represents the same amount. Adding the symbols together gives an indication of the total number of boats in each fleet and the tonnage of fish landings.

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Urbanisation impact on wild land infographic

Fishing in the North Sea

It is estimated that 1.5 million tonnes of fish and shellfish was caught and landed from the North Sea each year between 2012 and 2014. The total tonnage of fishing boats of countries that operate in the North Sea was almost 1.3 million tonnes in 2014. However, it should be noted that the fleet symbols relate to the total number of fishing boats registered in each country. The boats may fish in other seas as well as, or instead of, the North Sea. The infographic shows the fish landed by each national fleet, although the actual port where the fish is landed may be in a different country.


After the Great War of 1914-1918, Otto Neurath (1882-1945) developed a design method called ISOTYPE (International System of Typographic Picture Education) which used simple pictograms instead of words to display complex data. By using graphic symbols to represent the data it was hoped to make it more accessible to the general public. Gerd Arntz (1901-1988), a graphic designer, was commissioned by Neurath to draw over 4000 ISOTYPE symbols. The designs use a clean simple style to provide easily recognisable icons that have stood the test of time.

A key principle of the ISOTYPE method is that each graphic symbol represents a fixed amount. Therefore, larger amounts are shown with multiple symbols rather than changes in the scale or perspective of a single symbol. For example, five apples would be shown as five individual apples, rather than one big apple five times the size of the original. It can be seen that using graphic symbols to represent information in this way has had a significant influence on the design and use of infographics today.


Bate, A. (2016). UK Sea Fisheries Statistics. Briefing Paper No. 2788, House of Commons Library.

Eurostat, Fishing Fleet. Available at:

Livingston, A. & Livingston, I. (1998). Dictionary of Graphic Design and Designers. Thames and Hudson, London.

Løkkegaard, J., Andersen, J. L., Boje, J., Frost, H., & Hovgård, H. (2007). Report on the Faroese fisheries regulation. Department of Economics, University.

Napier, I.R. (2016). Fish Landings from the United Kingdom’s Exclusive Economic Zone: by area, nationality & species. NAFC Marine Centre, University of the Highlands and Islands.

This infographic appeared in JONO Design e-news. The e-news is published once every couple of months and each issue contains a specially designed infographic.

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