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

Fish swimming up river Chum salmon swimming upriver. Credit: NOAA Fisheries, Stori Oates
Rosy rockfish swimming in deep rocky habitat Rosy rockfish (Sebastes rosaceus) among California hydrocoral, foliose sponges and strawberry anemones on rocky habitat at 50 meters. Credit: NOAA/CBNMS
Multiple schools of colorful fish blanket a coral reef. Fish community on a reef offshore of Baker Island, a remote equatorial island. Credit: NOAA Fisheries/Jeff Milisen
Close-up view of a small juvenile abalone attached to the inside edge of an adult shell The small red shell is a juvenile white abalone on the inside edge of an adult abalone shell. Credit: NOAA Fisheries


A man wearing a black baseball hat, face mask, and gloves, holds a piece of tuna filet in his hands to inspect quality. Several other tuna are stacked on ice below. A bidder checks the quality of tuna at the Honolulu Fish Auction. Credit: NOAA Fisheries
Dozens of white, brown, and pink-colored sea scallops photographed on a black ocean floor. Dense beds of small Atlantic sea scallops photographed on the ocean floor in the Mid-Atlantic in 2015. Credit: NOAA Fisheries.
Monitoring work at Salty Lady Seafood farm. Credit: NOAA Fisheries. Monitoring work at Salty Lady Seafood farm. Credit: NOAA Fisheries.
Petrale sole placed on a wooden counter next to a kitchen knife and fruit and floral garnish A Petrale sole flatfish. Photo courtesy of Positively Groundfish.


Peer-Reviewed Research

Genetic Connectivity of Roundjaw Bonefish Albula glossodonta (Elopomorpha, Albulidae) in the Central Pacific Ocean Resolved through ddRAD-Based Population Genomics

Significant Bonefishes population structure present between the South Pacific, intermediate Line…

Commercial Fishing Business Cost Survey

Our survey seeks to better understand the costs associated with commercial fishing in the Northeast.

ACLIM Publications

Publications (in review) Torre, M. , W. T. Stockhausen, A. J. Hermann, W. Cheng, R. Foy, C. Stawitz, K. Holsman, C. Szuwalski, A. B. Hollowed. (In Review). Early life stage connectivity for snow crab, Chionoecetes opilio, in the eastern Bering Sea:…

2023 Alaska Fisheries Science Center Groundfish Seminar Series

2023 Groundfish Seminars held virtually using Webex

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.



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