Alewives swimming

New England/Mid-Atlantic

Science Overview

Since 1871, when NOAA Fisheries’ first laboratory was founded in Woods Hole, we have 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.


Ocean Life

Understanding the web of life in the ocean is central to our work to promote sustainable wild-caught and cultivated fisheries, and to conserve protected species in the Northeast Continental Shelf ecosystem.

Learn more about ocean life

Catch Data

Documenting fishery catches is critical for healthy fisheries. Although vessels and fishery dealers report on catch, a deeper understanding of harvests leads to more accurate stock assessments and more effective fishery rules. Specially trained fishery observers are deployed on fishing vessels to collect a wide range of biological and statistical information on catch, discards, and vessel operations.  

Learn more about catch data

Partnering with Industry

The Northeast Cooperative Research Branch brings fishermen and researchers together in projects that require specialized knowledge. Results of cooperative research promote better science and management for fisheries, as well as effective communication and collaboration among fishing professionals in the region.

Learn more about how we partner with industry


We conduct the world’s longest-running scientific survey of sea life and ocean conditions. For more than 50 years, researchers and volunteers have gone to sea aboard NOAA fishery survey vessels to collect fish and plankton samples, count marine mammals and seabirds, and take oceanographic measurements. We maintain a large dataset for understanding the age and growth of important species derived from biological samples.

Learn more about our surveys

Ecosystem Study

Understanding the complex interplay of  the ocean, the life it supports, climate, and resilience in natural and human communities is a tall order. We are well suited to study these connections within a large marine ecosystem.  

Learn more about our Ecosystem Studies


The Woods Hole Laboratory is home to the world’s oldest public aquarium, which dates from the founding of NOAA Fisheries’ original laboratory in 1871.

Learn more about Woods Hole Laboratory and visit us