Fish & Sharks

Fish are extremely diverse animals living in a variety of habitats ranging from coral reefs and kelp forests to rivers, streams, and the open ocean. Most fish can be categorized into one of two primary groups: bony fish (Osteichthyes) and cartilaginous fish (Chondrichthyes). The skeleton of bony fish is made of bones, while that of cartilaginous fish is made of cartilage. Cartilaginous fish include sharks, skates, and rays.

Most fish under NOAA Fisheries’ jurisdiction are marine fish that spend their entire life in salt water. Others are anadromous—like some species of salmon and sturgeon—which begin their lives in freshwater, migrate to the ocean to grow into adults, and then return to freshwater to spawn.

NOAA Fisheries is responsible for the sustainable management of many species of fish under the Magnuson-Stevens Act that are targeted for human consumption and other uses like fertilizer. Some of these fish include Pacific bluefin tuna, Alaska pollock, and summer flounder. We are also responsible for protecting fish species listed under the Endangered Species Act like Atlantic sturgeon and oceanic whitetip shark.

Species News

Ten people wearing orange life vests stand at the back end of a research vessel with a large, metal, black arch above them. The vessel is on the water with several buildings on the shore in the background. Collaborators on the environmental DNA project conduct a trawl survey in Sandy Hook Bay. From left to right: NOAA scientist Delan Boyce; Marine Academy of Science and Technology students Will Perry, Aiden Raheb, and Yaseen Zaky; NOAA scientist Claire Ober; MAST student Zach Basile, MAST teacher Liza Baskin, MAST students Riley Plosica and Jon Lopes, and SUNY Buffalo graduate student Anish Kirtane. Credit: Photo courtesy of Liza Baskin / Marine Academy of Science and Technology


Steelhead Net Pen Aquaculture in Puget Sound: Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to some frequently asked questions about net pen aquaculture.

Peer-Reviewed Research

An Experimental Assessment With Invasive Lionfish

A study on the effect of prey digestion on barcoding accuracy using red lionfish as predators and…

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.

Ocean Indicators Summary for 2021

Summary of ocean ecosystem indicators used to characterize juvenile marine salmon survival in the Northern California Current.


Understanding Fisheries Management in the United States

NOAA Fisheries is responsible for managing marine fisheries within the U.S. exclusive economic zone. Learn more about the sustainable management of our marine fisheries.