National Marine Fisheries Service (U.S.)

Established in 1871, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is the oldest conservation agency in the United States. Originally called the Commission of Fish and Fisheries, this federal agency was later renamed the NMFS and reorganized as part of the newly-established National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 1970.

The commission initiated the nation's first scientific studies of fish species and biology in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and was devoted to the protection, study, management, and restoration of fisheries. Although fisheries research began in Woods Hole as early as 1871, a permanent station did not exist there until 1885. A center of marine science, Woods Hole was conceived and implemented largely by one man, Spencer Fullerton Baird, who was the first U.S. Commissioner of Fisheries.

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