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

A fish found in Puerto Rico, the roughtongue bass, swimming along structure-forming corals on the seafloor. In 2014, researchers exploring the waters around Puerto Rico found fish such as this roughtongue bass among structure-forming corals on the seafloor. Scientists are studying the ways in which fish interact with corals to better understand deep-sea ecosystems. Credit: NOAA Ocean Exploration
Fisheries observer taking fish measurements on the deck of a vessel A fisheries observer collects data aboard a partial-coverage fishing vessel in Alaska. Credit:NOAA Fisheries


Peer-Reviewed Research

An Experimental Assessment With Invasive Lionfish

A study on the effect of prey digestion on barcoding accuracy using red lionfish as predators and…

Ocean Acidification Research in the Pacific Northwest

About a quarter of the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels is absorbed into the ocean. There it causes a chemical change resulting in ocean acidification. This chemical change has the potential to profoundly alter marine…

Ecological Genetics and Diversity in the Pacific Northwest

We provide science support for ongoing conservation and management activities, including participation in protected species status reviews, listings, and recovery planning and actions. In addition, we use genetic tools and analysis to characterize…

Florida Atlantic University Exempted Fishing Permit Application

The National Marine Fisheries Service received an application for an EFP from Florida Atlantic University.


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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