KIS Submarine Cables Import

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The Kingfisher Information Service provides route positions of submarine cables (Excel file) for fishing purposes. On 20.09.2010 we got the permission to import those route in OSM.


Covered area

The following areas are covered:

Area South West North East
North Sea - North & West 58°00′ N 21°00′ W 66°12′ N 05°00′ E
North Sea - Central 53°00′ N 02°36′ W 58°00′ N 10°00′ E
North Sea - South 50°52′ N 00°20′ E 53°09′ N 05°35′ E
English Channel 48°22′ N 04°02′ W 51°00′ N 01°55′ E
South Western Approaches 47°20′ N 13°00′ W 51°40′ N 03°00′ W
Irish Sea 51°27′ N 07°36′ W 55°40′ N 02°44′ W

The limitation to these areas leads to (transatlantic) cables being cut off in the middle of the sea.


The data is thinned to preserve an accuracy of 10m. Its quality looks mixed in my opinion, but I got no other data for comparision to indorse/disprove that impression.

A handful of cables with apparently bad quality (jumping nodes) weren't imported on purpose.

Additionally, especially when it comes to inactive cables (disused=yes), large segments are missing, from which I don't know if the data is error prone or if the cable was actually removed from the ground of the sea.


Check for existing data

The import was done manually, i.e. the data was a little bit augmented (capitalization, spelling errors, additional information) and uploaded using JOSM. For about 50% of the cables, I checked if they were already present in OSM, which wasn't the case for a single one. The rest was then imported without explicit checks. If I created redundant data, please inform me (or fix the problem yourself, if you can).

Tagging Schema

The tagging schema was controversially discussed on the german mailing list.

communication=line respectively power=line
source=Kingfisher Information Service, February 2010,

This schema looked good for me but later on additional suggestions were made. Please feel free to improve the tagging.

In the data there was no cable tagged as both power and communication cable. But I found at least one segment, where power and communication cables ran parallel. Maybe these cables are just a single one in reality.

for Nautical Chart

seamark:cable_submarine:category=*    ( power | transmission | telephone | telegraph 
                                                | mooring | optical | ferry )
Value Meaning
power Electricity supply
transmission High voltage power
telephone Telephone
telegraph Signalling
mooring Mooring chain or cable
optical Fibre optic cable
ferry Ferry cable