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NOAA/NMFS/SEFSC Galveston Laboratory
Mission Statement

The mission of the NMFS SEFSC Galveston Laboratory is to provide scientific information for 1) management of commercial and recreational fishery species, 2) characterization of habitats for fishery species, and 3) conservation of endangered sea turtles and other marine species, the Gulf of Mexico, the U.S. southeastern Atlantic and the U. S. Caribbean.

              Click on image above to download the NOAA NMFS Galveston Laboratory Brochure

Fishery Management Branch

Conducts research to assess, manage, maintain and enhance invertebrate and fish stocks in the Gulf of Mexico and along the southeast coast of the United States by: 1) analysis of fishery dependent landings and independent catch statistics information, 2) evaluation of fishery management plans and regulations, particularly brown shrimp, white shrimp, pink shrimp, royal red shrimp, rock shrimp, bottom and reef fishes, through inshore and offshore stock assessments, 3) evaluation of effects of species movement on fishing activities, 4) evaluation of fishery effects from interactions with endangered species and marine mammals, 5) development of models to forecast future shrimp landings, and 6) monitoring of industrial activities, such as offshore petroleum platform removal and fishing techniques, which adversely affects fishery stocks. Uses research to determine, monitor and describe fishery stock population characteristics, such as species distributions, abundance-at-age, recruitment to fishery and mortality parameters. Utilizes single species or multi-species models, such as VPAs, and age-based assessment models, with input from both fishery dependent and independent data resources. Develops new models which integrate ecological data, historical relationships and landings statistics data in order to support management of fishery stocks. Determines and predicts effects of fishing on stock sizes of both directed and non-directed catch. The accomplishment of this mission is undertaken through four highly integrated programs.

These programs include: 1) shrimp fishery research, 2) fishery observer programs, 3) oil platform ecology, and 4) bycatch in shrimp fisheries and shrimp population assessment.


Fishery Ecology Branch

The Fishery Ecology Branch at the Galveston Laboratory identifies and describes relationships between fishery production and ecosystem characteristics. Most fishery species in the Gulf of Mexico, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico depend on estuarine and coastal habitats to support their productivity; and important nursery habitats include coastal marshes, seagrass beds, mangroves, oyster reef, coral reefs, and shallow open water. A major goal of our research program is to identify key habitats and understand how variations in their characteristics affect fishery production. This information is critical in ensuring adequate protection for essential fish habitats. A major focus of our research has been on wetlands, because the vast expanses of coastal marshes in the Gulf of Mexico are experiencing high rates of wetland loss. The recognition that these habitats are important for fishery species has encouraged efforts to restore coastal marshes, but information on critical wetland characteristics that support fishery production is needed to ensure that functional habitats are created. Research on functional ecology of salt marshes has helped guide these restoration efforts.


Protected Species Branch

The Protected Species Branch mission is to support NOAA and NMFS in evaluation of human-induced and naturally caused mortalities of sea turtles and marine mammals for assessments of population status and regulatory actions to recover protected species. Activities of the Branch are undertaken in cooperation with other U. S. Federal and State conservation agencies through research responsive to requirements of the Endangered Species Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and the NOAA Strategic Plan. Captive reared sea turtles are used by the Branch for research and certification of Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) required in the Southeast U.S. and Gulf of Mexico shrimp fishery. Sea turtle tagging and tag-detection methods are tested. Sea trurtle and marine mammal strandings are monitored through beach surveys and live-stranded sea turtles are resuscitated, rehabilitated and released if healthy Carcasses of dead animals are necropsied and tissue samples are analyzed by collaborators for insight on molecular, cellular, and biological effects of environmental pollutants. The captive sea turtles are available to collaborative researchers from around the globe. Behavioral and physiological research involving captive-reared loggerheads has made it possible to evaluate responses to modifications of bait type, hook configuration, and light sticks associated with longline gear, auditory stimuli, and deterrents that be used to prevent fishery interactions.


In 1929, a U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service Fisheries field station was established in Galveston on Offatts Bayou, directed by A.E. Hopkins, Ph.D.

Original Mission:

Oyster Research

Early Research:

In 1931, the Laboratory became one of four FWS field stations to do shrimp research in the Gulf of Mexico directed out of New Orleans by F.W. Weymouth.

Present Facility:

Established in 1950, at the old U.S. Army Ft. Crockett in Galveston, as a Bureau of Commercial Fisheries Laboratory. Historical designation. Renovated 2008. Over 70,000 square feet of offices and laboratories in 10 buildings with a 130,000- gallon seawater system. Research space is shared with National Ocean Service‘s (NOS) Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary (FGBNMS), Physical Oceanographic Real Time System (PORTS) and the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network (TMMSN).

The Galveston Laboratory is featured in the NOAA publication: "NOAA and the Preserve America Initiative". Download a PDF copy of this publication by clicking on the picture above.

Present Mission:

Research on management of shrimp, sea turtles and coastal wetlands.

Director: J. Jeffery Isely, Ph.D. (Acting)

Administrative Services: James Randolph


61 (27 federal, 19 contract, 15 students/volunteers)

Annual Budget:

$10.4 million in 2016 ($8.4 million NOAA funds)

Research Branches:

Fishery Management Branch - Rick Hart, Ph.D.

Fishery Ecology Branch - Ron Hill, Ph.D. (Acting)

Protected Species Branch - Vacant

Estuarine Habitats &
Coastal Fisheries Center (Lafayette, LA) - Vacant

SERO Habitat Conservation Division, Gulf of Mexico Branch - Rusty Swafford

Click image above for
complete 2017 fact sheet.


Offshore Fishery Observers (shrimp, red snapper, bottom longline grouper, pelagic longline tuna and mackerel), Shrimp Stock Assessment, Oil Platform Removal Observers, Bycatch Characterization, Shrimp Biology, Shrimp Catch Statistics, Monitoring of Sea Turtle and Marine Mammal Strandings, Sea Turtle TED and Longline Research, Essential Fish Habitat Research, Coastal Wetland Restoration, Ecosystem Modeling.