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This dataset represents the density of all IMO registered ships operating in the Baltic Sea. Density is defined as the number of ships crossing a 1 x 1km grid cell. It is based on HELCOM AIS (Automatic Identification System) data. The HELCOM AIS network hosts all the AIS signals received by the Baltic Sea States since 2005. The AIS Explorer allows to compare density maps of different ship types per month: http://maps.helcom.fi/website/AISexplorer/ The data was processed to produce density maps and traffic statistics. All scripts are available in GitHub: https://github.com/helcomsecretariat. The production of these maps have been carried out 2016-2017 through the HELCOM project on the assessment of maritime activities in the Baltic Sea. The underlying AIS data processing work has been co-financed by EU projects Baltic Scope (2015-2017 EASME/EMFF/2014/18.104.22.168) and Baltic Lines (2016-2019, Interreg Baltic Sea Region). In addition, the Ministry of the Environment of Finland supported the work with a special contribution in view of the use of the results in the HOLAS II process.