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

The indigenous plant and ground cover, ʻākulikuli The indigenous plant and ground cover, ʻākulikuli, is also a popular ingredient in salads. Credit: Kauaʻi Sea Farms
Mercenaria Mercenaria (hard shell clams) that were grown in the Nomilo Fishpond. Aquacultured hard shell clams. Credit: Kauaʻi Sea Farms
NOAA's Office of Law Enforcement patrolling in the Southeast. NOAA's Office of Law Enforcement patrolling in the Southeast.
Construction equipment alongside a stream near a road Construction underway to restore fish passage on the Little Tonsina River. Credit: Copper River Watershed Project.

Multimedia

NOAA Fisheries staff in the field at a restoration project site in Louisiana NOAA Fisheries staff in the field at a restoration project site in Louisiana. Credit: NOAA Fisheries.
Large woody debris in a creek in a forested area The Fivemile-Bell habitat restoration project in the Siuslaw watershed in Oregon. Credit: Siuslaw Watershed Council.
An angler holds a fish, its mouth open and air bladder inflated from barotrauma. Barotrauma expands gasses in a fish causing the air bladder and other organs to expand as well, making it difficult for fish to swim after release. Credit: NOAA Fisheries, Florida SeaGrant
NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette off Maui in 2004. NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette off Maui in 2004. Homeported in Honolulu, Hawaii, NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette is a multipurpose oceanographic research vessel that conducts fisheries assessments, physical and chemical oceanography research, marine mammal and marine debris surveys. The ship operates throughout the central and western Pacific Ocean. Credit: NOAA/Ray Boland.

Research

Atlantic Marine Assessment Program for Protected Species

We conduct surveys and develop abundance and distribution models to better understand how protected species such as whales, dolphins, and sea turtles use our waters.

Monitoring the Ecosystem in the Northeast

Collect, Distribute, and Analyze: Our long-term ecosystem data (hydrography, ocean chemistry, plankton) and analyses feed research into everything from North Atlantic Right Whales to stock assessments. Collaborate: We work closely with fishing…

2022 Alaska Fisheries Science Center Groundfish Seminar Series

2022 Groundfish Seminars held virtually using Webex - Recordings Available.

Peer-Reviewed Research

Five decades of change in somatic growth of Pacific hake from Puget Sound and Strait of Georgia

Pacific hake from the Salish Sea have experienced substantial changes in body size over the last…

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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