What Does the National Marine Fisheries Service Do?

national marine fisheries service

Have you ever wondered who looks after the United States oceans’ living marine resources and their habitat? Ask no more. The National Marine Fisheries Service has the answer. Informally known as NOAA Fisheries, it is a United States federal agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Founded in 1970, the NMFS supervises and manages ocean seafood sustainability within the United States Exclusive Economic Zone, which extends seaward 200 nautical miles from the coastline (about 370 kilometers). It has five regional offices, six science centers, and more than 20 laboratories around the United States and U.S. territories, and also works with partners across the nation.

national marine fisheries service

A Little Bit of History on the National Marine Fisheries Service

The foundation of the NMFS traces back to 1871 as the U.S. Commission of Fish and Fisheries. It was divided into three research categories: the study of U.S. waters and fish and its biological problems, the study of past and present fishing methods and collection of fish catch and trade statistics, and the introduction and propagation of food fishes throughout the nation.

This structure remained through the transition of the commission’s placement within the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), in 1970. It was placed that same year under the control of NOAA, which was created as a component of the Department of Commerce.

The NMFS Mission

The agency provides vital services for the nation, all backed by sound science and an ecosystem-based approach to management. Among its activities, it looks after productive and sustainable fisheries, safe sources of seafood, recovery, and conservation of protected resources,  and healthy ecosystems.

The resilience of marine ecosystems and coastal communities depends on healthy marine species, including protected species such as whales, sea turtles, corals, and salmon. Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act, NOAA Fisheries works to recover protected marine species while allowing economic and recreational opportunities.

Science Centers

The National Marine Fisheries Service operates six fisheries science centers covering marine fisheries conducted by the United States. The science centers correspond roughly to the administrative division of fisheries management into five regions, with the west coast utilizing two fisheries science centers.

Fisheries Management: Illegal Fishing and Seafood Commerce

The agency works with U.S. government agencies and foreign governments to implement domestic and international policies and plans for addressing illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing in United States waters and internationally. NOAA Fisheries works with the United States Department of State to evaluate international fisheries and identify vessels that have engaged in IUU fishing activities.

NMFS Seafood Inspection Program certifies U.S. seafood products for domestic consumption and for export. This voluntary, fee-for-service program’s inspection activities include vessel and plant sanitation inspections and seafood product quality evaluations. After inspecting a company’s seafood products, a National Seafood Inspection Program officer issues and signs the certificates required to accompany U.S. seafood exports to countries that require health certification.

Get Your Permits and Documentation Today

The Commercial Fishing Permits Center has all the forms you need to comply promptly with the authorities so to provide professional and quality fishing at all times. Contact us if you have any questions.

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