As far as fishing is concerned, navigation has come a long way from maps and compasses to more advanced ways like GPS mapping and GPS plotters. These terms may be confusing about what role they play and how they differ from each other. This article will go in-depth to show you the differences between them in various ways.


A GPS plotter is an electronic navigation tool that has a GPS receiver and uses it to integrate the particular location of a ship via charts and maps. The location is marked on a fixed map which is readable by anyone.

Unlike GPS mapping, GPS plotters can be used even by people who are novices about triangulation.

On the other hand, GPS mapping is a component that is mostly used by qualified explorers who have capability and skills in interpreting longitudes and latitudes and applying them to detect the exact whereabouts of their ship.


For a GPS plotter, it works to show you a map and mark substantial places and objects on it. Unlike a GPS mapping, a GPS plotter goes in-depth and offers you with a destination. It uses those coordinates and plots it on maps kept on the device’s memory to help you pursue a location and set an endpoint. Advanced GPS plotters will also suggest a shorter route to your endpoint by computing the expanse covered.

For a GPS mapping, it delivers you the longitudes and latitudes of your present site from the station of the three satellites. A GPS mapping won’t be able to give any other context of your location.

Navigation is much easier with a GPS plotter as it is easy to comprehend visually compared to GPS mapping.

Accuracy and Preciseness

GPS mapping is quick and more accurate compared to plotters especially when it comes to providing the points, speed, and bearings of the unit. This minimizes the triangulation cost as one can take the best way to reach his endpoint.

When it comes to setting capabilities, its preciseness aids trawlers to circumnavigate through unclear ways without any challenges.


For a GPS plotter, it will provide you with information on the quickness of the unit, the duration to be taken to reach a destination, and also the number of miles from the endpoint. All these statistics points are offered in real-time and stored in the device.

Unlike GPS mapping, GPS plotter is able to plot the ship locality on a map and store it in the memory. The two types of charts used by a GPS plotter to map are: 

Raster Charts

They are automated paper maps that have exhaustive data and accommodate a lot of storage.

Vector Charts

They mathematically calculate the components of the map as well as provide a wide outlook of the present items. One needs some knowledge in understanding how to use a vector chart in order to use it to its full capability.

Without the chart, a GPS plotter will be less useful.

Ship View

GPS mapping is all about the exact position of the ship at the time. For a GPS plotter, in case of a large ship, it assists the captain with a clear eye picture of his vessel and other vessels near him. They can also get the speeds of these ships and foretell where they will be after a certain duration. This will greatly assist especially in swarming docks as it may greatly prevent costly collisions.


A GPS plotter can also give strict track specifics one ought to monitor to reach an endpoint within a certain time. The track is provided in sort of waypoint to waypoint ways.

This is not the case with GPS mapping, its parameters are not made to do more apart from showing your current location.

Tracking and Positioning

A plotter will collect data across the entire track and store it so that one trails the similar way and track on the coming back journey. Odds of getting lost are therefore very minimal.
Apart from choosing the best track to reach your endpoint, GPS mapping does not keep track of the routes used.

There are two forms of GPS units used to position:

Handheld GPS Devices

They are simple to bring anywhere and very precise and effective. They tag along with a mounting bracket so it makes it stress-free to use in rough water.

Computer Linked GPS

These are GPS which are coupled with a computer. They are cost and time efficient. The major merit of such GPS is that it allows you to strategize and navigate using various programs and series at the same time. They may be applied to present 3D which eases triangulation. Keeping them below the deck gives a clear view of the screen especially in bright light.

Underwater Survey

GPS mapping helps oceanographers study the immersed operations. The GPS statistics aids in setting the buoy, sweeping, rummaging activities, and also charting the waypoints of the buoys. It also assists in spotting the underwater dangers which can pose a threat to the vessels.

For a GPS plotter, it will only know of the obstructions or anything that may be challenging for the ship but only with the aid of a GPS receiver.

Maritime Management

A GPS plotter is co-operative in handling the largest docks around the sphere. A GPS mapping assists with containing logistics. They work together to transfer and place containers charging track of records from the entrance to the exit of the harbor. This helps reduce the number of mislaid, vanished, and dislocated containers which then reduces the operating cost.


GPS mapping plays a big role in making fishing easier. Most of the money-making fishing convoy uses GPS mapping to locate the heavily crowded sites of the fish and also store a record of fish actions and relocation.

GPS Plotter and GPS Mapping: Conclusion

To sum up, GPS mapping and GPS plotter are both useful in navigating and giving a location to fishers and other users. With the above distinctions, I hope you can vividly differentiate them especially with the role they play.


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