Facilitated by recent establishment of terrestrial networks and satellite constellations of Automatic Identification System (AIS) receivers, ship trajectories are becoming increasingly available and the size of recorded trajectories is getting larger. Large sets of trajectories create problems of storing, transmitting and processing data. Using appropriate methods, an accurate representation of the original trajectories can be obtained by compressing redundant information, while maintaining the main characteristic elements. In this paper, a new scheme and the implementation of the Douglas-Peucker (DP) algorithm are presented, which can simplify AIS trajectories by extracting characteristic points. As for the simplification threshold, the solo parameter of the DP algorithm, a new AIS-based minimum ship domain evaluation method is proposed and acts as criteria for simplification threshold determination. Finally, a validation is made to examine the effectiveness of the DP simplification algorithm and the rationality of the simplification threshold. The result indicates that the DP algorithm can simplify AIS trajectories effectively; the simplification threshold is scientific and reasonable.