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

Concrete plunge pool at base of dam The improvements to the plunge pool at the base of the dam will improve survival of river herring and other sea-run fish. Credit: Steve Brooke
People removing juvenile Chinook from a tank in the back of a pickup truck Transportation and unloading of juvenile CCC coho salmon from the hatchery to an area located near Pescadero Creek. Photo: Mary Derr, Public Good PR


Feature Story

Distribution and Abundance of Forage Fish in Arctic and Sub-Arctic Waters Affected by Warming Ocean Conditions

Pelagic or forage fish species are an important source of food for marine predators in the eastern Bering Sea. This group of fish includes capelin, Pacific herring, juvenile chum salmon, juvenile pink salmon, juvenile sockeye salmon, and walleye pollock…

Feature Story

Central Gulf of Alaska Marine Heatwave Watch

The longest period of marine heatwave conditions (sea surface temperatures elevated above the 90th percentile for more than 5 consecutive days) for 2020 occurred between September 13 and October 31 (48 days). As of December 14 there have been a total of…

Feature Story

Fall Gulf of Maine Bottom Longline Survey Wraps Up

The COVID-19 pandemic and typical fall weather conditions were challenges, but the Cooperative Gulf of Maine Bottom Longline Survey team and industry partners wrapped up a successful season in early November. “Every single person on the bottom…

Feature Story

20 Memorable Marine Stories, Videos, and Photos of 2020

Sharks, whales, turtles, and much more! Revisit our top features of the year below. Top 5 Feature Stories 1. 12 Shark Facts That May Surprise You Do sharks have bones or good eyesight? During Shark Week 2020, we explored shark facts that you…


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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