New England and the Mid-Atlantic have a long and storied history of fishing, beginning with the Native American tribes who celebrated annual fish runs, and continuing with the colonial settlers, the whalers, and the modern fishing fleet.
Fishing still defines our culture today, with lobsters, sea scallops, crabs, and a variety of fish filling our menus and attracting tourists from all over the world. New Bedford, Massachusetts, has been the highest value port in the United States for 16 consecutive years, thanks to the lucrative scallop fishery. Recreational fishing is a popular pastime, contributing $4.3 billion to our economy. Many fishermen still fish in the same places and for the same species as their ancestors hundreds of years ago.
Our work to ensure sustainable fisheries and protect marine life is a joint effort of the Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office and Northeast Fisheries Science Center, offering sound science to help inform management decisions in an ever-changing environment.
The Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office is responsible for the science-based stewardship of the nation’s living marine and diadromous resources and their habitats throughout approximately 100,000 square miles of the northwest Atlantic. The region encompasses the large marine ecosystem from Maine to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina; the Great Lakes; and the rivers and estuaries within this range.
Since 1871, when NOAA Fisheries’ first laboratory was founded in Woods Hole, the Northeast Fisheries Science Center has conducted a comprehensive marine science program, studying fishery species and fisheries, monitoring and modeling ocean conditions and habitats, developing aquaculture, and providing reliable advice for policymakers. Our work promotes recovery and long-term sustainability of marine life in the region and helps sustain coastal communities. We also house the Woods Hole Science Aquarium, the nation's oldest public marine aquarium.
By studying the interactions between the environment and marine life in the Northeast Continental Shelf ecosystem, we develop ways to conserve protected species and promote the growth of a highly productive aquaculture industry.
Documenting fishery catches is critical for healthy fisheries. We deploy trained fishery observers on fishing vessels to collect biological and statistical information on catch, discards, and vessel operations.
We collect samples and data from fishery resources and the environment. The data are used to assess the status and trends of fishery resources and the dynamics of the ecological processes that control resource productivity.
We play a primary role in determining the effects of management measures on the status of stocks, as well as in examining the impacts of management actions on the individuals, businesses, communities, and regions dependent on these stocks.
We conduct a formal scientific peer-review process for evaluating and presenting stock assessment results to managers for fish stocks in the offshore US waters of the northwest Atlantic.
Our Major Research Areas Ecosystem Based Fisheries Management Managing resources to reflect the relationships among all ecosystem components, including human and nonhuman species and the environments in which they live. Impacts of
Part of the History of NOAA Fisheries in the Northeast The NOAA Ship Delaware II celebrated 44 years of service to fisheries and oceanographic research at the Woods Hole Laboratory of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole
Some of the early research aquaria, circa 1890, in the aquarium space in the old Woods Hole Laboratory's main research building. The Woods Hole Science Aquarium has a three-part mission: education, conservation, and research in support of
We collect and use information from commercial and recreational fisheries to inform fisheries science and management, as well as fill data gaps to complement fishery independent surveys through commercial and recreational fishing platforms. We work