The Southwest Fisheries Science Center is headquartered in La Jolla, California, and has science laboratories located in Santa Cruz and Monterey, California. We also have field stations in Piedras Blancas, Granite Canyon, and Arcata, California, and two stations on the Antarctic Peninsula.
What We Do
Center scientists conduct marine biological, ecological and oceanographic research, observations and monitoring of living marine resources and their environment. We also conduct research on the impacts of environmental variability and climate on marine ecosystems and on fishery and conservation socio-economics. Center scientists work with numerous partners and our NOAA Fisheries counterparts—the Northwest, Pacific Islands and Alaska Fisheries Science Centers and the West Coast Regional Office—to provide sound science for national and international management decisions.
Our Science Divisions
Antarctic Ecosystem Research
The Antarctic Ecosystem Research Division manages and implements the U.S. Antarctic Marine Living Resources Program, which provides information for U.S. policy on the management and conservation of Antarctic living resources and supports U.S. participation in international efforts to protect the Antarctic and its marine life.
Environmental Research Division
The Environmental Research Division focuses on investigations of environmental variability on marine resources – from local to global scales – and the effects of global climate change on oceanic processes important to fish population dynamics. We develop oceanographic information and data products through the ERDAP data server and host the west coast regional site for the NOAA CoastWatch program, which provides rapid dissemination of satellite observation data to governmental, academic, commercial, and public users.
Fisheries Ecology Division
The Fisheries Ecology Division focuses on demersal and anadromous fish of the California Current and adjacent island waters. We conduct stock assessments for the management of groundfish and salmon fisheries and provide scientific information to support the conservation of threatened and endangered species and their habitats.
Fisheries Resources Division
The Fisheries Resources Division conducts research on valuable coastal pelagic and highly migratory marine species in the eastern Pacific Ocean. We focus on the ecology, ecosystems, and fisheries of sardine, anchovy, mackerels, abalones, tunas, and sharks in support of domestic and international fisheries management.
Marine Mammal and Turtle Division
The Marine Mammal and Turtle Division conducts research on the conservation and recovery of marine mammals and turtles in all oceans of the world, with a special focus on the eastern Pacific.
Our Leadership and Support Divisions
Office of the Science Director
The Director’s Office provides overall leadership, coordination, and communication for the Center's science programs.
Operations and Management Division
The Operations and Management Division provides administrative and operational services including financial and acquisitions management, human resources, facilities management and safety and environmental compliance in support of the Center’s staff and research mission.
Information Technology Services
Information Technology Services provides information technology and data management services to support the Center's science programs.
Key Areas Where the Center Provides Science and Innovation
Monitoring and Assessment for Sustainable Fisheries and the Recovery of Threatened and Endangered Species
Evaluations and stock assessments of coastal pelagic species (sardine, anchovy, market squid), highly migratory fishes (tuna, albacore, shark, and billfish), Pacific coast groundfish and salmon, invertebrates (abalone), marine mammals and marine turtles
Scientific advice in support of the regional Fishery Management Councils many other national and international fisheries organizations, commissions and conventions.
Ecosystem Observations and the Impacts of Environmental Variability and Climate on Fisheries and Protected Species
NOAA’s longest time series and largest scale ecosystem-based monitoring surveys in the California Current, Eastern Tropical Pacific, Central Pacific and Southern Ocean provide the scientific information for ecosystem-based management of living marine resources in a changing climate.
Assessment and prediction of the effects of climate and environmental variability—from global to local scales—that is important to fish populations, protected species, marine ecosystems and the people that depend upon them.
Development of web-based access to a wide variety of oceanographic and biological data providing the most powerful interface to major marine, atmosphere and remote sensing datasets on the web today.
Innovation and Technological Development
Research and development of advanced acoustic and visual technologies for fisheries and habitat studies to improve the accuracy, precision and efficiency of fisheries surveys and thus resulting stock assessments using multi-frequency acoustic systems, remotely operated vehicles, instrumented buoys and autonomous underwater vehicles.
Research and development of passive acoustics methods for the detection and identification of marine mammals from their sounds and the use of aerial photogrammetry to study individual health and population abundance.
Advancement of molecular ecology studies and the world’s largest collection of marine mammal, marine turtle and California Current fish tissue used to determine health, population structure and the “units to conserve” using state-of-the-art genetic methods.
Design and Implementation of New Paradigms in Fisheries Management
Pioneering innovative socioeconomic solutions to trans-boundary and trans-national ecosystem-based fisheries management issues and leadership in international conservation economics.
Design and implementation of new strategies for the management of marine mammals based on the precautionary principle incorporated into the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
Development and successful implementation of ecosystem-based management in Antarctica for the conservation objectives of the Antarctic Treaty through a precautionary approach that minimizes risk associated with harvesting practices and takes into account the needs of dependent predators and climate variability.
Education, Training, Engagement and Public Access to Data for an Informed Society
Education and training of the next generation in partnership with California’s leading universities.
Collaborative research with recreational and commercial fishing industries.
Opportunities for capacity building through collaborative research with international partners.
Public engagement projects with the local fishing and culinary community and with local artists
Opportunities for citizen science.
Access to scientific data and library and online access to publications and reports.
Kristen Koch is the Science and Research Director of Southwest Fisheries Science Center. She served as Deputy Director since 2009. Previously, Kristen was the Deputy Ecosystem Goal Team Lead in Silver Spring, MD (2007-2009) where she oversaw NOAA's $1.5 billion ecosystem portfolio. In this position, she was responsible for strategic planning and management of NOAA's nine ecosystem programs across four NOAA offices (Fisheries, Ocean Service, Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, and National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service).
John A. Crofts
John Crofts is Deputy Director of the Southwest Fisheries Science Center. John began his NOAA career in 2001 as a NOAA Corps Officer. He most recently served as the Center's Chief of Staff and in a variety of scientific, advisory, and management positions throughout NOAA. He most recently served as the first operational Commanding Officer of NOAA Ship Reuben Lasker leading multiple surveys in the California Current and Gulf of Alaska. Prior to NOAA, he worked as a fish biologist for the Florida Marine Research Institute.