Fish swimming over reef
About Us

Southeast Fisheries Science Center

The Southeast Fisheries Science Center works with our NOAA Fisheries counterpart, the Southeast Regional Office, to provide independent, objective science to inform regional fisheries management decisions.

Our Location

Map of Southeast Region with labs labeled.

The Southeast region is among the most complex and diverse regions in the United States, spanning three large marine ecosystems: The Gulf of Mexico, the South Atlantic, and the U.S. Caribbean. The Center is headquartered in Miami, FL and has science laboratories located in Beaufort, NC; Panama City, FL; Pascagoula, MS; and Galveston, TX. We also have researchers located in Stennis, MS and Lafayette, LA as well as port agents and observers stationed throughout the region.

What We Do

The Southeast Fisheries Science Center  conducts multidisciplinary research to inform natural resource management in the Southeast United States, including the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean and South Atlantic. Our science is used by NOAA, Regional Fishery Management Councils, Interstate and International Fishery Commissions, and other Federal, state and local agencies to make informed management decisions to protect and conserve the living marine resources in the Southeastern U.S. and Atlantic high seas. We have 4 primary divisions conducting and supporting our science.

We work with our NOAA Fisheries counterpart, the Southeast Regional Office, to provide independent, objective science to inform regional fisheries management decisions.



Our Leadership

Clay Porch, Ph.D.


Dr. Porch has held various positions with the agency for more than 25 years, winning multiple awards for his leadership and administrative capabilities. He has served as a member of the Science Center’s leadership team since 2006. He has overseen population assessments and research for vitally important domestic fish populations in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean, as well as some in the South Atlantic and internationally for the International Commission for the Conservation of Tuna.

Theo Brainerd, Ph.D.

Deputy Director

Dr. Brainerd was appointed as the Deputy Director of the Southeast Fisheries Science Center in January 2008. Prior to this appointment, Dr. Brainerd was the director of the Science Planning & Coordination Office and managed the SEFSC Coral Reef Program. Dr. Brainerd has served as acting Director of SEFSC’s Panama City Laboratory as well as numerous other leadership roles at the Center.
Management Team
Operations, Management and Information Division
Peter Thompson, Ph.D.

Division Chief

Budget and Administration Branch
Isabel Holder ,
Branch Chief

Data Management and Fisheries Statistics Division
Steve Turner, Ph.D.

Division Chief

Fisheries Monitoring Branch
David Gloeckner, Ph.D. ,
Branch Chief

Fisheries Sampling Branch
Lawrence R. Beerkircher ,
Branch Chief

Protected Resources and Biodiversity Division
James A. Bohnsack, Ph.D.

Division Chief

Sustainable Fisheries Division
Clay Porch, Ph.D.


Highly Migratory Species Branch
Craig Brown, Ph.D. ,
Branch Chief

Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Branch
Shannon Cass-Calay, Ph.D. ,
Branch Chief

Social Science Research Group Branch
Matthew McPherson, Ph.D.

Branch Chief

Other Locations
Fisheries research at the Beaufort Laboratory furthers the nation's conservation objectives primarily through the collection and analysis of data to describe the individual and population biology of living marine resources, understand the structure and function of large Marine ecosystems, assess fish stocks, assess population and health of sea turtles and dolphins, conduct aging of reef fishes, and collect data and samples and conduct assessments with commercial menhaden fisheries and recreational headboat fisheries in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.
The Panama City Lab performs research relevant to the formulation of national plans to manage the marine fishery resources of the U.S. South Atlantic, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico. Our current research program encompasses a spectrum of projects including basic fishery biology, ecology, routine monitoring and data collection, and habitat mapping.
The Mississippi Laboratories (Pascagoula and Stennis locations) research activities are in response to resource management, environmental, and utilization needs and are by design inherently responsive to various legislative and fishing industry needs throughout the southeast region. We are also the home port of the NOAA Ships Gordon Gunter, Oregon II, and Pisces, which conduct scientific surveys of the health and abundance of fishery resources and marine mammals.
The Galveston Lab provides scientific information on the management of commercial and recreational shellfish and finfish, conservation of coastal habitats, and protection of threatened and endangered marine species of the Gulf of Mexico. The Galveston Lab also supports staff in Lafayette, LA at the Estuarine Habitats and Coastal Fisheries Center which provides scientific information on conservation of coastal habitats, management of commercial and recreational shellfish and finfish, protection of threatened and endangered marine species, including the Marine Mammal Molecular Genetics Lab, protection of coastal wetlands.