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

food web for Bering Sea fish and other species, graphic showing connections between species This is a path diagram for the Bering Sea and Aleutians Islands marine ecosystem. It shows linkages between ecosystem variables. Arrows correspond to suspected relationships. An arrow pointing from X to Y indicates that a change in X is estimated to cause a change in Y. The number next to each arrow shows the estimated magnitude of the change (red arrows indicate a negative change and blue arrows indicate a positive change).
Top image is a larval pollock, bottom image is an adult pollock Larval and adult walleye pollock. Credit: NOAA Fisheries


Survey tow net is hauled up with catch for sorting and processing After each survey tow, the net is retrieved and the catch is emptied into a hopper where a series of conveyors move the catch to the sorting and processing area aboard the NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow. There, scientists sort the catch and collect data and biological samples. Credit: NOAA Fisheries/Jessica Blaylock


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: Joy Merino; (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.