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

Aerial view of the Nisqually River Basin at sunset Tidal wetlands in the Nisqually River Basin, where restored habitat fosters growth of juvenile salmon and steelhead on their way to the ocean.
A river flows past several historic brick buildings The Mill River flows past the former site of the West Britannia Dam, after its removal. Credit: Massachusetts Division of Ecological Restoration.
750x500-seafood-display-case-wegmans.jpg Seafood display case at Wegmans supermarket. Photo credit: NOAA Fisheries.
Magnified photo of Pacific cod yolk sac larva. Pacific cod yolk sac larva. Photo: NOAA Fisheries.


Ecosystem Research on the Pacific Hake Acoustic-Trawl Survey

During the Integrated Ecosystem and Pacific Hake Acoustic-Trawl Survey, scientists and collaborators collect data on other fish, zooplankton, seabirds and marine mammals, enabling a better understanding of the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem.

Peer-Reviewed Research

Operationalizing Ensemble Models for Scientific Advice to Fisheries Management

This paper explores the possibility of using the ensemble modelling paradigm to fully capture…

Gulf of Alaska Climate Integrated Modeling Project

Anticipating and Adapting to Climate Change The Gulf of Alaska ecosystem supports valuable and diverse marine fisheries, annually producing $1.3-2.1 billion dollars first wholesale value, and many other important recreational and subsistence uses…

Ocean Indicators Summary for 2020

Summary of ocean ecosystem indicators used to characterize juvenile marine salmon survival in the Northern California Current.


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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