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.
- Go to the Nearshore Fish Atlas online database
- Navigating the Nearshore Fish Atlas Desktop
- Nearshore Fish Photos
- Videos: Juvenile Rockfish in Eelgrass, Beach Seining in the Aleutian Islands (WMV)
- Seaweeds of Alaska (broken link)
- Fish and Invertebrate Species Photo Gallery