Whitespotted surgeonfish
About Us

Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center

Working with our NOAA Fisheries counterpart, the Pacific Islands Regional Office, to conduct research and monitoring programs that support the domestic and international conservation and management of living marine resources across the Pacific Islands Region.

Our Location

Map of Pacific Islands region with labs labeled
Bounded by the Hawaiian Archipelago in the north, American Samoa and U.S. Pacific Remote Island Areas in the south, and the Mariana Archipelago in the west, the Pacific Islands region encompasses the largest geographical area within NOAA Fisheries’ jurisdiction. The U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) within the Region includes more than 1.7 million square nautical miles of ocean, roughly equal to the total EEZ of the continental United States and Alaska. PIFSC is also responsible for research on living marine resources in the high-seas areas of the central and western Pacific.

What We Do

The center's work includes these main focus areas:

Ecosystem Sciences

We conduct multidisciplinary research, monitoring, and analysis of integrated environmental and living resource systems in coastal and offshore waters of the Pacific Ocean.

  • Field research activities cover near-shore island ecosystems such as coral reefs to open ocean ecosystems on the high seas.

  • Research focus includes: oceanography, coral reef ecosystem assessment and monitoring, benthic habitat mapping, and marine debris surveys and removal.

  • Analysis of the current structure and dynamics of marine environments, as well as examination of potential projections of future conditions such as those resulting from climate change impacts are assessed with use of numerical ecosystem models.

  • Because humans are a key part of the ecosystem, the ESD includes research of the social, cultural, and economic aspects of fishery and resource management decisions.

Fisheries Research and Monitoring

We coordinate the Center's programs for fisheries monitoring, fisheries data management, fisheries interactions, fish life history studies, and stock assessment.

  • We provide the scientific foundation to enable informed and effective implementation of ecosystem-based management and conservation strategies for U.S. fisheries throughout the Pacific Islands Region.

  • We carry out extensive activities to monitor U.S. fisheries of the Pacific Islands and oceanic waters of the central and western Pacific, assess the status of exploited fish stocks, and provide scientific advice to fishery managers. These activities are guided by mandates and authorities derived primarily from the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and international agreements.

  • We also work closely with our partners in state and other federal agencies, local and tribal governments, international fisheries organizations, foreign scientific institutions, the fishing and seafood industry, academia, and non-governmental organizations.

Protected Species

We provide the scientific foundation for the conservation of cetaceans, Hawaiian monk seals, and sea turtles in the Pacific Islands, guided by mandates of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, Endangered Species Act, and international agreements.

  • Cetacean Research Program (CRP) conducts research needed for the assessment of whale and dolphin populations in the central and western Pacific Ocean, which requires an understanding of distribution, stock structure, habitat use, and natural and anthropogenic threats, along with estimates of abundance, demography, and mortality.

  • Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program (HMSRP) conducts science-based conservation. The program carries out research and monitoring to support identification of threats, and designs, implements and evaluates interventions to mitigate those threats.

  • Marine Turtle Biology and Assessment Program (MTBAP) conducts research throughout the central and western Pacific Ocean to support the conservation and management of threatened and endangered marine turtle populations. The program works to understand the distribution, abundance, trends, movements, habitat use, and population dynamics of numerous populations of turtles from five species, as well as the impacts of anthropogenic activities such as fisheries bycatch on each population.

Operations, Management, and Information

We provide high quality customer service, oversight, and the technical tools necessary to help further the success of the PIFSC and NOAA mission, while ensuring compliance with agency policies and regulations.

  • Administrative Services provides oversight and coordination in the areas of personnel, procurement, travel, training, property management, grants management, interagency agreements, facilities and maintenance, safety and environmental compliance, and other related areas.

  • Budget Office staff coordinate the development of budgets to meet Center objectives; operate an effective financial management system to allocate, monitor and account for Center monetary resources; and regularly report to Division Chiefs and the Center Director on financial status.

  • Information Technology Services provides the infrastructure and IT tools needed by all PIFSC employees to complete their job while enforcing the mandated security requirements.

Science Operations

We provide support and logistical services for PIFSC scientific research activities to ensure their safety and success.

  • We oversee all PIFSC research resources and activities aboard NOAA ships, NOAA small boats, and charters, ensuring they are permitted and comply with federal, state, and local regulations.

  • Our Boating Safety Program provides boat safety training and coxswain support.

  • Our Scientific Support Pool is a cadre of trained and experienced biological technicians who provide at-sea and shoreside support for research activities.

  • Our field liaisons provide support for PIFSC research and monitoring activities in Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

  • Our Editorial Team reviews research products from staff to ensure that PIFSC produces high-quality technical reports, scholarly articles, web content, and educational materials.

Our Leadership

Michael Seki, Ph.D.


In his role as Director of the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, Dr. Seki provides the science direction and oversight of research activities that support stewardship of living marine resources in the vast expanse of the Pacific Islands Region. Since joining NOAA Fisheries in 1980, Dr. Seki has conducted extensive fisheries, oceanographic, and ecosystem research on many marine species in the Pacific. He has authored or co-authored more than 40 scientific papers and participated in over 20 domestic and international research surveys.

Evan Howell, Ph.D.

Deputy Director

Dr. Howell began work at NOAA Fisheries in the Pacific Region in 1997, and through his career he has led and participated in scientific research coupling physical and biological processes to better understand critical habitat and possible climate effects on highly migratory and protected species in the central North Pacific ecosystem. As part of this research Dr. Howell authored or co-authored more than 30 peer-reviewed scientific papers and participated in eleven NOAA or scientific partner research missions.
Management Team
Ecosystem Sciences Division
Frank Parrish

Division Director

Ecosystems Division / Ocean Synthesis and Human Dimensions
Justin Hospital ,
Program Lead, Supervisory Economist

Ecosystems Sciences / Habitat and Living Marine Resources
Rusty Brainard, Ph.D. ,
Supervisory Oceanographer

Fisheries Research and Monitoring Division
Christofer Boggs, Ph.D.

Division Director

Beth Lumsden

Deputy Director

Fisheries Research and Monitoring Division / Insular Fisheries Monitoring Program
M. Kimberly Lowe, Ph.D. ,
Supervisory Operations Research Analyst

Fisheries Research and Monitoring Division / International Fisheries Program
Keith Bigelow ,
Program Manager, Supervisory Research Fish Biologist

Fisheries Research and Monitoring Division / Stock Assessment Program
Annie Yau, Ph.D. ,
Program Manager, Supervisory Research Fishery Biologist

Protected Resources Division
Charles Littnan, Ph.D.

Division Director

Protected Species Division / Cetacean Research Program
Erin Oleson, Ph.D. ,
Lead Scientist, Research Ecologist

Protected Species Division / Marine Turtle Biology and Assessment Program
T. Todd Jones, Ph.D. ,
Lead Scientist, Supervisory Research Biologist

Science Operations Division
Noriko Shoji

Division Director

Science Operations / Field Operations Program
Chad Yoshinaga ,
Supervisory Logistics Management Specialist

Science Operations / Monuments Science Coordination
Hokuala Johnson ,
Supervisory Natural Resource Management Specialist

Operations, Management and Information Division
Susan Kamei

Division Director

Operations, Management and Information Division / Acquisitions, Grants, and Facilities Services
Julie Whitaker ,
Supervisory Business and Industry Specialist

Operations, Management and Information / Budget Office
Mary Zadlo ,
Budget Officer

Operations, Management and Information Division / Information Technology Services
Mark Kazunaga ,
Information Technology Services Chief