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.


Multimedia

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.
NOAA Ship Bell M. Shimada during 2010 Pacific Hake Inter-Vessel Calibration off Eureka, CA NOAA Ship Bell M. Shimada during 2010 Pacific Hake Inter-Vessel Calibration off Eureka, California. Credit: NOAA

Research

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…

Fisheries Ecology in the Northeast

We study fisheries ecology: the relationship between important marine life and their environment. Our goal is to support sustainable wild and farmed fisheries on the Northeast shelf to create opportunities and benefits for the economy and ecosystem.

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…

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,…

International Collaboration

Fish and other marine animals travel beyond national boundaries.

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