Learn how we work with partners to ensure sustainable fisheries management, as well as the protection of endangered and threatened species and marine mammals.
What kind of partnerships does NOAA Fisheries have?
NOAA Fisheries works with a number of federal, regional, and state and territorial partners to ensure the sustainable management of U.S. fisheries. Most marine fishery regulations implemented in federal waters (generally from 3 to 200 nautical miles from shore) are developed under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, in conjunction with the eight regional fishery management councils. A state-federal program guides NOAA Fisheries' interactions with coastal states and island territories/commonwealths, three interstate fisheries commissions, and other national groups. We also collaborate with other countries to work toward sustainable fishing solutions worldwide.
In addition, NOAA Fisheries partners with federal agencies, states, academic institutions, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector to address the conservation of threatened and endangered species and their habitats, as well as the protection of marine mammals.
NOAA Fisheries partners with federal agencies every year on hundreds of projects. For example, to protect essential fish habitat during construction projects, many of our federal agency partners implement research and monitoring programs during and after construction. This information provides a better understanding of habitats and the species that use them.
We also collaborate with federal agencies to address threats to endangered and threatened species that may result from federal programs and actions including adverse impacts to species’ habitats. Learn more about consultations.
Mutually beneficial partnerships with federal agencies, such as the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, also enable our Office of Law Enforcement to maximize enforcement efforts and leverage resources effectively. These federal partners assist with law enforcement investigations, and our special agents and enforcement officers help train other federal agencies on issues related to marine law enforcement.
Some of the federal agencies we work with include:
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
- U.S. Coast Guard
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration
- U.S. Forest Service
- U.S. Navy
- Bureau of Customs and Border Protection
- Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement
- Bureau of Land Management
- Bureau of Ocean Energy Management
- Department of Agriculture
- Department of Health and Human Services
- Department of Homeland Security
- Department of the Interior
- Department of Justice
- Federal Highway Administration
- Federal Transit Administration
- Marine Mammal Commission
Learn more about our work with other federal agencies.
NOAA Fisheries works closely with state and territorial partners to collect data, conserve fish habitat, assess the status of fish stocks, and implement effective management programs to ensure the sustainability of U.S. fisheries. Because fish and other marine animals can range between state waters (up to 3 nautical miles from shore) and federal waters, this means working closely with the coastal states and territories. State governments have an important role in conserving ocean fisheries because many saltwater fish thrive in coastal areas or migrate inland. Because many fish also migrate across state boundaries, the federal-state partnership ensures the health of these fisheries.
For example, Species Recovery Grants under the Endangered Species Act, allow NOAA Fisheries to cooperate with states to conserve threatened, endangered, and candidate species. States can use these funds to support management, research, monitoring, and outreach projects that have direct conservation benefits for listed species, recently delisted species, and candidate species that reside within the state.
Learn more about our state fisheries partners.
Three interstate commissions work with us on cross-state issues related to shared fishery resources.
The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission was formed in 1942 and develops fishery management plans to sustain the Atlantic coast states’ shared coastal fishery resources. Species include Atlantic menhaden, striped bass, and red drum. NOAA Fisheries develops regulations for species managed by the commission and its member states under the Atlantic Striped Bass Conservation Act and the Atlantic Coastal Fisheries Cooperative Management Act. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is also a key partner.
The Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission was established in 1949 and recommends management measures to the governors and legislatures of the five Gulf states. Species include Gulf menhaden, oysters, and black drum. The states do not relinquish any of their rights or responsibilities in regulating their fisheries in their territorial jurisdictions. The commission uses scientific studies by state and federal agencies, advice from law enforcement officials, and input from the commercial and recreational fishing industries to make management recommendations.
The Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission was formed in 1947. It promotes and supports actions to conserve, develop, and manage fishery resources in California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Alaska by coordinating research activities, monitoring fishing activities, and facilitating projects. Species include walleye pollock, salmon, and rockfishes. The commission manages the Pacific Fisheries Information Network which collects, processes, analyzes, and reports statistics for fisheries along the West Coast, as well as the Alaska Fisheries Information Network which collects similar key information for North Pacific and Alaska fisheries.
NOAA Fisheries partners with tribes in many ways on various management and conservation efforts including marine mammal issues, the development of fishery management plans, and mitigating impacts to important fish habitat.
Tribes offer vast traditional knowledge developed over centuries. Traditional ecological knowledge from indigenous and local communities is important for conservation plans, as it provides an intimate view of marine animals, their habitats, and changes that may have affected them over time. In addition, traditional knowledge of local species distributions, abundances, behaviors, and threats can help identify research needs.
Species Recovery Grants to Tribes support tribally led recently de-listed species, candidate species, and species proposed for listing under the Endangered Species Act. And in Alaska, through coordination with the Alaska Stranding Network, we are able to authorize our tribal co-management partners to respond to entangled northern fur seals when conditions allow. Since the mid-1990s, NOAA Fisheries has trained and authorized tribal members on St. Paul and St. George to monitor and disentangle northern fur seals.
Learn more about tribal consultation and co-management.
Regional Fishery Management Councils
The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act created eight regional fishery management councils. These councils are responsible for the fisheries that require conservation and management in their region. Voting and non-voting council members represent the commercial and recreational fishing sectors, in addition to environmental, academic, and government interests.
Under the MSA, councils are required to:
- Develop and amend fishery management plans.
- Convene committees and advisory panels and conduct public meetings.
- Develop research priorities in conjunction with a Scientific and Statistical Committee.
- Select fishery management options.
- Set annual catch limits based on best available science.
- Develop and implement rebuilding plans.
NOAA Fisheries supports the councils by conducting the annual nomination and appointment process, training new members, and facilitating periodic meetings of the Council Coordination Committee.
Learn more about the Regional Fishery Management Councils.
Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee
The Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee advises the Secretary of Commerce on all living marine resource matters that are the responsibility of the Department of Commerce. The members, representing a wide spectrum of fisheries, environmental, academic, state, tribal, consumer and other related national interests, draw on their expertise and other appropriate sources to evaluate and recommend priorities and needed changes in national programs.
Learn more about the Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee.
The ocean covers more than 70 percent of the planet, and the United States has jurisdiction over only a fraction of it. Fish and other marine animals swim beyond national boundaries, and NOAA Fisheries works to promote international cooperation to achieve effective and responsible marine resource stewardship and ensure sustainable fisheries management worldwide.
The U.S. approach to science-based fisheries management has become a global model of success and leads the way in scientific and technological advancements. International cooperation is important for our seafood supply, conservation efforts, and cutting-edge scientific research.
Because the United States imports over 90 percent of our seafood, international negotiations are critical to sustainable management of fisheries beyond U.S. waters. We work with other countries through various international fisheries organizations to promote the same fisheries management and conservation practices we have at home. NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement also works with international partners for capacity building and to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing.
In an effort to conserve protected marine resources, it is important to consider the migratory nature of species. Conservation efforts for migratory species are more successful when undertaken in cooperation and collaboration with other countries. For example, the Indian Ocean–South-East Asian Marine Turtle Memorandum of Understanding is a non-binding intergovernmental agreement that aims to protect, conserve, and recover sea turtles and their habitats in this region. Six marine turtle species are protected under IOSEA, and more than 30 countries participate.
Our International Science Program was created to ensure that we benefit from cutting-edge science from around the world and that NOAA’s expertise and innovative scientific approaches to fisheries management are applied in international forums. This helps us maintain expertise in fisheries science, strengthen relationships with other countries to jointly collect information and assess the status of shared stocks, and provide assistance to improve the management of living marine resources in developing countries.
Learn more about our international efforts.
Regional Fishery Management Organizations
An RFMO—short for regional fisheries management organization—is an international body made up of countries that share a practical and/or financial interest in managing and conserving fish stocks in a particular region. NOAA Fisheries participates in various international fisheries organizations to promote international cooperation to achieve effective and responsible marine stewardship and ensure sustainable fisheries management.
For example, in the Atlantic Ocean region we are part of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, an inter-governmental fishery organization of more than 50 countries responsible for the conservation of tunas and tuna-like species in the Atlantic Ocean and its adjacent seas. The commission compiles fishery statistics from its members and from all entities fishing for these species in the Atlantic Ocean, coordinates research, develops science-based management advice, and more.
Learn more about the international fisheries organizations that we participate in.
Many non-government organizations focus on ocean issues and have goals that significantly overlap with NOAA Fisheries’ mission. These organizations and their members are critical to the conservation and protection of our nation’s ocean resources. NGOs include academic institutions, environmental advocacy groups, aquariums, stranding networks, local/community groups, and others. These partners conduct numerous activities and provide a range of vital resources, expertise, and data to further sustainable fisheries, recover and conserve protected species, and promote habitat restoration.
Examples of our work with NGOs include:
- Conducting research and providing input that supports sustainable fisheries management.
- Identifying resources and innovative approaches to recover and conserve protected species.
- Providing marine mammal and sea turtle stranding and entanglement response.
- Protecting habitat and implementing conservation and restoration projects.
Learn more about the work with do with NGOs.