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. We also research 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:
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, our research includes 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 and local governments, international fisheries organizations, foreign scientific institutions, the fishing and seafood industry, academia, and non-governmental organizations.
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 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 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 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 tools needed by all Center employees to complete their job while enforcing the mandated security requirements.
We provide support and logistical services for the Center's scientific research activities to ensure their safety and success.
- We oversee all 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 research and monitoring activities in Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
- Our editors review research products from staff to ensure that the Center produces high-quality technical reports, scholarly articles, web content, and educational materials.
- The Library's collection includes books, journals, maps and charts, reports, newsletters and other grey literature, reprints, and more than 800 Japanese-to-English translations for researchers and the public.
Charles Littnan, Ph.D.
Dr. Charles Littnan is the Director of the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center. In his role, Dr. Littnan focuses on the center’s mission to provide science to support the conservation and management of fisheries and living marine resources across the Pacific Ocean. Dr. Littnan is a marine biologist with 20 years’ experience including research to support the conservation and management of large, complex, research programs related to marine mammals and sea turtles.
Tia P. Brown
Tia is the Deputy Director of the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center. In her role, Ms. Brown provides the operational and administrative guidance and oversight of the science, operations, and administrative activities that support stewardship of living marine resources in the vast expanse of the Pacific Islands region. Ms. Brown has led a broad range of management and policy activities across NOAA.