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Nearshore Fish Atlas of Alaska

The distribution, relative abundance, and habitat use of nearshore fishes in Alaska.

fisher people beach seining in a kelp bed in Alaska

The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1996 requires the identification of essential fish habitat (EFH) for species included in federal fishery management plans (FMPs). Identifying EFH requires basic information on fish distribution and habitat use. For many FMPs in Alaska, EFH information is limited, especially for early life stages of fish found in nearshore habitats. One of the challenges for understanding EFH in Alaska’s nearshore is the extensive and complex coastline (~55,000 km) with a wide diversity of estuarine and marine habitats including fiords, bays, channels, and straits.

NOAA Fisheries Alaska Regional Office and Alaska Fisheries Science Center’s Auke Bay Laboratories designed the interactive, online Nearshore Fish Atlas of Alaska (NFA) to provide access to available data on the distribution, relative abundance, and habitat use of nearshore fishes in Alaska. This spatially explicit and searchable platform is a unified database of numerous nearshore catch datasets collected by various agencies and organizations in Alaska over the past several decades. The NFA has tools for extensive querying and filtering in addition to downloading fully attributed data. The compiled datasets are from dozens of studies with different objectives and gear types (e.g., beach seines, purse seines, and trawls).

A key function of the NFA is to provide a centralized location for researchers and the public to conduct desktop reconnaissance and acquire a wealth of data. Ultimately, the information housed in the NFA helps resource managers prepare biological opinions and identify habitats essential to different life stages of commercially and ecologically important fish species in Alaska’s nearshore.

map showing extent of catch data in the Nearshore Fish Atlas of Alaska
General extent of catch data housed in the Nearshore Fish Atlas of Alaska


Fish Atlas

Additional Resources




A Handy Field Guide To The Nearshore Marine Fish Of Alaska

Introduction This guide culminated from years of research on the importance of the nearshore marine environment to fishery resources in Alaska…


Atlas Of Nearshore Fish Of Alaska: A Synthesis Of Marine Surveys From 1998 To 2011

This synthesis reveals a wealth of information about nearshore fish of Alaska. Our major findings include: 1. Nearshore marine waters support…


Diel Differences in Fish Assemblages in Nearshore Eelgrass and Kelp Habitats in Prince William Sound Alaska

Nearshore vegetated habitats in Alaska support diverse and abundant fish assemblages, and are particularly important for juveniles including several…



Fish Assemblages in Nearshore Habitats of Prince William Sound

We sampled fish at eight locations in western Prince William Sound, Alaska, in April, July, and September 2006, and July 2007, to identify species…


Nearshore Fish Assemblages of the Northeastern Chukchi Sea Alaska

The Arctic is an ecologically fragile area experiencing rapid changes in climate (warming) and loss of sea ice (Moline et al., 2008). In September…


Changes In Eelgrass Habitat And Faunal Assemblages Associated With Coastal Development In Juneau Alaska

Summary Of Findings We studied three eelgrass (Zostera marina) beds in the City and Borough of Juneau (CBJ), Alaska, to track changes associated…