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

Photograph of a large black sleeper shark hovering over the sandy and rocky deep seafloor Pacific sleeper shark photographed at 3,125 feet depth by the remotely operated vehicle, Deep Discoverer. Credit: NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research.
A small pink fish on a black background. New species Emmelichthys papillatus Girard, Santos, and Bemis 2024, also known as the papillated redbait. It will be known by its Tagalog name, rebentador pula, in its native range of the Philippines. Photo courtesy of the Kagoshima University Museum.
Chinook salmon jumping out of the water Spring-run Chinook salmon in California’s Central Valley were once the backbone of California’s commercial salmon fishery, but are now a threatened species that remain in a few tributaries of the Sacramento River. Photo: Carson Jeffres / University of California, Davis
View of harbor with blue water and mountains in the distance Salmon net pens containing >46 million juvenile chum salmon in Amalga Harbor, Southeast Alaska. Credit: NOAA Fisheries/Patrick Barry


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
A black and white Southern Resident killer whale leaping out of the water. The fin of another whale is visible and a boat and mountains are in the background. A Southern Resident killer whale leaps out of the water. Credit: Candace Emmons


2024 Alaska Fisheries Science Center Seminar Series

2024 Seminar Series held virtually using Webex.

2023 North Pacific Groundfish Stock Assessments

2023 North Pacific Groundfish Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation Reports for 2024 Fisheries

Exempted Fishing Permit: Quantification of Bycatch Composition and Survival in the Commercial Menhaden Purse Seine Fishery

Gulf of Mexico Exempted Fishing Permit. For more information, contact: Dan Luers; (727) 824-5305, or Jennifer Lee at

Peer-Reviewed Research

Microplastics Absent From Reef Fish in the Marshall Islands: Multistage Screening Methods Reduced False Positives

No plastic >1 mm were found in the Republic of the Marshall Islands reef fish, reassuring human…

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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