Highly Migratory Species

Highly migratory fish travel long distances and often cross domestic and international boundaries. These pelagic species live in the water of the open ocean, although they may spend part of their life cycle in nearshore waters. Highly migratory species managed by NOAA Fisheries include tunas, some sharks, swordfish, billfish, and other highly sought-after fish such as Pacific mahi mahi.

These highly migratory species are targeted by U.S. commercial and recreational fishermen and by foreign fishing fleets. Because they migrate long distances and live primarily in the open ocean, only a small fraction of the total harvest of these species is taken within U.S. waters.

In the United States, NOAA Fisheries sustainably manages highly migratory species under the Magnuson-Stevens Act in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans:

Responsible management also requires international cooperation through a number of agreements and regional fishery management organizations (or RFMOs) including the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission, International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna, Commission on the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, and Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

Species News

Photo of scientists sorting and measuring fish from baskets on a boat deck. NOAA Fisheries scientists sort samples collected during an eastern Bering Sea fisheries survey. Credit: NOAA Fisheries.
Magnified photo of Pacific cod yolk sac larva. Pacific cod yolk sac larva. Photo: NOAA Fisheries.
Underwater photo of Alaska pollock. Subsurface water clarity has a major impact on marine ecosystems and commercially important species like Alaska pollock. Credit: NOAA Fisheries.


Southwest Fisheries Science Center Stock Assessments

Population assessments are a key component of marine resource management. These assessments allow us to evaluate and report the status of managed fisheries, marine mammals, and endangered/threatened species under the authorities of the Magnuson-Stevens…

Peer-Reviewed Research

Atlantic Salmon Ecosystems Research Team Publications

Publications related to the research by the Atlantic Salmon Ecosystem Research Team in support of…

Fishery Monitoring for West Coast and International Fisheries

Staff in the highly migratory species Fisheries Monitoring Program collaborate with partners at NOAA Fisheries’ West Coast Regional Office, Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, the state fisheries agencies of California, Oregon, and Washington,…

Population Dynamics of Coastal Pelagic and Highly Migratory Species in the North Pacific

The Fish Population Dynamics and Modeling Program conducts analyses in support of the Pacific Fishery Management Council's Fishery Management Plans for coastal pelagics species and highly migratory species. We also conduct analyses in support of U.S…


International Collaboration

Fish and other marine animals travel beyond national boundaries.



22 species match your filter criteria.