About the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center

The Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The Center administers and conducts scientific research and monitoring programs that support the domestic and international conservation and management of living marine resources across the Pacific Islands Region. Key research focus areas include:

  • coral reef ecosystems
  • fishery and protected species population assessments
  • marine mammal and sea turtle ecology
  • life history studies of fish
  • monitoring of fisheries activity
  • economics
  • human dimensions of resource management
  • development of bycatch reduction technologies
  • health and disease in protected species
  • fishery interactions with protected species
  • ecosystem monitoring and integrated assessment
  • and impacts of climate change on the environment and ecosystems.

Science Center Organization

The Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center is headquartered in Honolulu, Hawaii. The Center has taken a leading role in marine research on ecosystems, both in the insular and pelagic environments. It is implementing a multidisciplinary research strategy including an ecosystem observation system and scientific analysis to support ecosystem approaches to management and restoration of living marine resources. It conducts a wide range of activities including resource surveys and stock assessments, Fishery Monitoring, economic and sociological studies, oceanographic research and monitoring, critical habitat evaluation, life history and ecology studies, and advanced oceanographic and ecosystem modeling and simulations.

The Ecosystem Sciences Division (ESD) conducts multidisciplinary research, monitoring, and analysis of integrated environmental and living resource systems in coastal and offshore waters of the Pacific Ocean. Field research activities cover from near-shore island-associated ecosystems such as coral reefs, to open ocean ecosystems on the high seas. Research focus includes: oceanography, coral reef ecosystem assessment and monitoring, benthic habitat mapping, and marine debris research and removal. Analysis of the current structure and dynamics of marine environments, as well as examination of potential projections of future conditions such as those resulting from climate change impacts are assessed with use of numerical ecosystem models. Because humans are a key part of the ecosystem, the ESD includes research of the social and economic aspects of fishery and resource management decisions. The ESD also provides scientific and capacity building support to international organizations.

The Fisheries Research and Monitoring Division (FRMD) provides fisheries research and monitoring science to support fisheries management in the Pacific Islands Region. The FRMD's fisheries research activities include: Investigations into target fish species' life history; production of assessments of population size and characteristics for target and non-target species; and research into methods to reduce bycatch of non-target species, including modifications to fishing gear and use of deterrent devices. The FRMD also monitors fishing activity in Federal fisheries via logbook and compiles reports of these data, as well as works with State of Hawaii and Pacific Territorial agencies to enhance their fisheries monitoring efforts. The FRMD provides information about and findings from its fisheries research and monitoring activities to a variety of stakeholders, including the Western Pacific Fisheries Management Council, Regional Fishery Management Organizations (RFMOs; conventions that govern catch of highly migratory species throughout the central and western Pacific), and participates in collaborations and fishing gear technology transfer with foreign nations and with non-governmental organizations.

The Operations Management and Information Division (OMID) provides support for strategic and annual operations planning; budget formulation and execution; full-time equivalent (FTE) and human resources management (including EEO and diversity); administrative processes, data and information management information technology, e-mail and telecommunications systems; environmental compliance, safety and facilities management. Other functions include travel services, acquisition and grants, and all other administrative services in support of Center scientists.

The Protected Species Division (PSD) conducts scientific investigations which serve a basis for management decisions and actions to enhance the conservation and recovery of endangered Hawaiian monk seals, endangered and threatened sea turtles, whales, and dolphins. The PSD is comprised of three programs: the Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program, the Marine Turtle Biology and Assessment Program, and the Cetacean Research Program. Research objectives for all three programs address species-specific topics designed to assess and monitor population trends, characterize biology and natural history, understand foraging ecology and movement patterns at sea, identify and investigate impediments to population growth, and build research capacities with other stakeholders. The PSD also conducts community outreach and education activities to share information with stakeholders and promote the stewardship of protected species.

The Science Operations Division (SOD) provides the technical and logistical support necessary to carry out the PIFSC science mission in the field and the lab. SOD is composed of three complementary units: Program Coordination, Survey, and Technical Services. The Program Coordination unit is responsible for communicating science needs and plans in the Marine National Monuments of the Pacific. This includes working closely with our research and management partners located in Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The Survey unit provides the hands-on operational and scientific support for field research using advanced sampling technologies while on ships and small boats. The Technical Services unit facilitates compliance of research activities with applicable environmental statutes and regulations, including NEPA and permits. Technical Services also facilitates document preparation for publication and maintains the research library facilities.

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