The Northeast Fisheries Science Center’s functions are carried out through the coordinated efforts of research facilities in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. Our multidisciplinary program of basic and applied research covers the Northeast Continental Shelf Ecosystem from the Gulf of Maine to Cape Hatteras. Our Woods Hole, Massachusetts office also houses a science aquarium which is open to the public.
What We Do
The Northeast Fisheries Science Center has conducted a comprehensive marine science program in the region since 1871. We study fishery species and fisheries, monitor and model ocean ecosystems, and provide reliable advice for policy makers. Our work promotes recovery and long-term sustainability of marine life in the region, supports both wild and cultured seafood harvests, helps sustain coastal communities, and generates economic opportunities and benefits from the use of these resources.
We strive to be objective and impartial, and to provide the best science available for ocean stewardship. We work with the Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office to ensure informed management decisions based on sound science. Please see our 2020 Strategic Plan for detailed information.
To deliver exceptional science and service for a changing Atlantic.
To provide the scientific information and tools necessary for productive, sustainable, and healthy marine ecosystems and coastal communities in our region.
We value people, science, and service as we carry out our mission.
Learn more about the workplace culture we support (pdf, 1 page).
Annual Guidance Memo
Our leadership provides annual guidance on activities that take place every year. View and download our current Annual Guidance Memo.
Ecosystems and Aquaculture
Our Ecosystems and Aquaculture Division studies the interactions between the environment and marine life to promote sustainable wild-caught and cultivated fisheries, and to conserve protected species in the Northeast Continental Shelf ecosystem.
Fishery Monitoring and Research
Our Fishery Monitoring and Research Division provides services that help maintain productive and sustainable fisheries, recover and conserve protected species like whales and endangered fish, and support healthy marine ecosystems.
Population & Ecosystems Monitoring & Analysis
Our Population and Ecosystems Monitoring and Analysis Division maintains a comprehensive data collection effort, including biological samples taken directly from fish and other sea life in our oceans. These collections provide data used to assess the status and trends of fishery resources and the dynamics of the ecological processes that control resource productivity. Over time they are an index of the fast moving changes off our coast owing to human activities and a changing climate.
Our Protected Species Division conducts research on endangered fish species as well as sea birds, marine turtles, seals, whales, and dolphins that live or migrate off the coast of the northeastern United States. They look at the distribution, ecological relationships, and human interactions. This science helps to ensure the conservation and recovery of these species for future generations.
Resource Evaluation and Assessment
Our Resource Evaluation and Assessment Division determines the effects of management measures on the status of fishery and protected species, and also examines the impacts of management actions on the individuals, businesses, and communities in the region that depend on these stocks.
Jon Hare, Ph.D.
Woods Hole Lab
The Woods Hole facility is the nation’s first federal fisheries lab, established in 1871.The Science Center's directorate is located here along with the majority of stock assessment, population biology, fishery monitoring, marine mammal, and social sciences researchers. The lab also houses the nation’s oldest public aquarium, open to visitors year-round.
Sandy Hook Laboratory
The James J. Howard Marine Sciences Laboratory is a state-of-the-art marine research facility. The primary mission of the lab is to conduct research in ecology, leading to a better understanding of both coastal and estuarine organisms and the effects of human activities on nearshore marine populations.
Located on the shore of Long Island Sound, the Milford Lab’s well-integrated aquaculture program includes studies of the culture of fish and shellfish to develop methods suitable for commercial use as well as for stock enhancement and restoration. Nearshore habitats are studied to determine what characteristics make a habitat suitable for a particular species.
At this lab, research is conducted on the effects of changing oceanographic and ecological conditions on the productivity and health of the Northeast US Continental Shelf ecosystem. Studies also are conducted on the demography and ecology of shark populations in response to oceanographic conditions to provide information for shark assessment and management.
Orono Field Station
At the Orono station, the Atlantic Salmon Ecosystems Research Team works to promote the recovery and future sustainability of Atlantic salmon and other diadromous fish and their ecosystems. The salmon team primarily focuses on fish in the estuarine and marine environment.
NOAA Fisheries’ first laboratory was founded in Woods Hole, Massachusetts in 1871. Since then, we have conducted a comprehensive marine science program, studying fishery species and fisheries, monitoring and modeling ocean conditions and habitats, developing aquaculture, and providing reliable advice for policymakers. Our work promotes recovery and long-term sustainability of marine life in the region and helps sustain coastal communities.
For an in-depth look at how the Fisheries started and developed in the Northeast, check out our history site!