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

Group of men in uniform and marine weather gear on a ship inspecting and handling the surrounding halibut fish. State and Federal enforcement personnel inspecting halibut during the 2023 season. Credit: NOAA
Fish swimming near the sea floor Sablefish near the seafloor. Credit: NOAA Fisheries.


Children fishing on a dock in Charleston, South Carolina Children fishing on a dock in Charleston, South Carolina. Credit: Jae Schmitz
Man aboard a boat casting a fishing line Central Valley salmon fisherman and Nor-Cal Guides and Sportsmen’s Association Vice President, Scott Hambelton, casts from his boat on the American River. Credit: NOAA Fisheries
Cape Shirreff field camp against a backdrop of mountains in Antarctica. Credit: NOAA Fisheries Cape Shirreff field camp on Livingston Island, one of the most breathtaking places in Antarctica. Credit: NOAA Fisheries


Peer-Reviewed Research

The Role of Small Pelagic Fish in Diverse Ecosystems: Knowledge Gleaned From Food-Web Models

Food-web models represent a synthesis of knowledge of these dependencies and are a platform for…

Groundfish Tag Recovery Reporting via Survey123 App

How do I download the Survey123 app?Downloading the Survey123 app on your smart device is the FIRST STEP to getting access to the Groundfish Tag Recovery Reporting survey. The SECOND STEP is clicking the individual link for the Groundfish Tag Recovery…

Cook Inlet Salmon Harvest Specifications

The Inseason Management Branch monitors and manages salmon fishing in the Cook Inlet EEZ Area according to the final harvest specifications for each fishing year.

Pacific Islands Annual Catch Limits

A summary of the current estimated catch of target species, percent of annual limits caught, and status of Pacific Island fisheries.

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.