NOAA Fisheries is a descendant of the Office of the Commissioner of Fish and Fisheries which was established on February 9, 1871. This office and its ancestor agencies such as the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries and today’s National Marine Fisheries Service, had their roots in the vision of Spencer Fullerton Baird, second Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution and first Commissioner of Fish and Fisheries. One of the primary missions of NOAA Fisheries has changed little since 1871 – the Protection and Preservation of the Food Fishes of the United States – but many additional duties have accrued including protection of endangered species such as many varieties of marine mammals and sea turtles.
Since the time of the establishment of this first marine conservation agency, NOAA Fisheries has conducted research in all the major fisheries of the United States, from Maine to Texas, and California to northern Alaska. Fisheries research ships have sailed throughout much of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans; fisheries laboratories have been established in many regions of the United States; and fisheries policy-makers in cooperation with stakeholders have helped manage our fisheries resources.