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

Smalltooth Sawfish Searching for smalltooth sawfish
Sack Dam Sack Dam on the San Joaquin River. Photo courtesy U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
An Atlantic salmon swims in the viewing box at the Milford fish lift, with river herring in the background. An Atlantic salmon makes her way through the Milford Fish Lift and upriver to spawn in the Penobscot. The Nature Conservancy, C. Daigle, 2014.


Peer-Reviewed Research

Quantifying the Accuracy of Shark Bycatch Estimations in Tuna Purse Seine Fisheries

Scientists were strategically positioned during fishing sets in order to establish a reference…

Flatfish Biology Conference

Convened by NOAA Fisheries and first held in 1986, the Flatfish Biology Conference provides researchers with an opportunity to present their findings on all aspects of flatfish research.

Peer-Reviewed Research

Environmental Conditions, Diel Period, and Fish Size Influence the Horizontal and Vertical Movements of Red Snapper

Our results have implications for scientific surveys of red snapper used for population assessment…

Near-real time temperatures from the Bering Sea Bottom Trawl Survey

During this year's Eastern Bering Sea and Northern Bering Sea Bottom Trawl Surveys we are collecting and sharing  near-real time temperature data from the ocean seafloor. The goal of the survey is to collect data on the distribution and abundance of…


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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