Fish & Sharks

Fish are extremely diverse animals living in a variety of habitats ranging from coral reefs and kelp forests to rivers, streams, and the open ocean. Most fish can be categorized into one of two primary groups: bony fish (Osteichthyes) and cartilaginous fish (Chondrichthyes). The skeleton of bony fish is made of bones, while that of cartilaginous fish is made of cartilage. Cartilaginous fish include sharks, skates, and rays.

Most fish under NOAA Fisheries’ jurisdiction are marine fish that spend their entire life in salt water. Others are anadromous—like some species of salmon and sturgeon—which begin their lives in freshwater, migrate to the ocean to grow into adults, and then return to freshwater to spawn.

NOAA Fisheries is responsible for the sustainable management of many species of fish under the Magnuson-Stevens Act that are targeted for human consumption and other uses like fertilizer. Some of these fish include Pacific bluefin tuna, Alaska pollock, and summer flounder. We are also responsible for protecting fish species listed under the Endangered Species Act like Atlantic sturgeon and oceanic whitetip shark.

Species News

European green crab A European green crab. Credit: Emily Grason/Washington Sea Grant
Tribal citizens help with Atlantic sturgeon research Tribal members Desiree Nuckols (left) and April Deacy (right) with an Atlantic sturgeon
Coho salmon being held to measure length One of the first coho salmon to return to historic habitat on the Lostine River this year. Releases starting in 2017 reintroduced the fish to the northeast Oregon river after an absence of almost 50 years. Photo Credit: Nez Perce Tribe


Feature Story

Using eDNA to Monitor Alaskan Waters for Invasive European Green Crabs

Natural resource managers in British Columbia discovered several adult male and female European green crabs on Haida Gwaii this past July. Alarm bells immediately went off for biologists in Alaska.  The archipelago of Haida Gwaii, off the coast of…

Ecosystem Science for Endangered and Threatened Rockfish in Puget Sound

In 2010, we listed Yelloweye Rockfish (Sebastes ruberrimus) and Canary Rockfish (S. pinniger) as 'threatened' and Bocaccio (S. paucispinis) as 'endangered' in Puget Sound, WA under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) due to large decreases in their…

Ecological Research on Rockfishes in Puget Sound

We used oceanographic modeling, acoustic tracking technology and stable isotope analyses to examine basic research questions for rockfish in Puget Sound.

Southwest Fisheries Science Center Stock Assessments

Population assessments are a key component of marine resource management. These assessments allow us to evaluate and report the status of managed fisheries, marine mammals, and endangered/threatened species under the authorities of the Magnuson-Stevens…


Understanding Fisheries Management in the United States

NOAA Fisheries is responsible for managing marine fisheries within the U.S. exclusive economic zone. Learn more about the sustainable management of our marine fisheries.

working waterfront


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