FOCI (Fisheries Oceanography Coordinated Investigations) is a joint research program between the Alaska Fisheries Science Center (NOAA/National Marine Fisheries/AFSC) and the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (NOAA/Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research/PMEL). The program was established by NOAA in 1984 to study relationships between the marine environment and the survival of commercially valuable fish in the western Gulf of Alaska. Walleye pollock (Theragra chalcogramma) was the first fish species examined in these studies. Since the inception of the program, the scope has evolved to encompass study of the ecosystems of the North Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea with the goals of improving understanding of ecosystem dynamics and applying that understanding to the management of marine resources.
FOCI comprises physical and biological oceanographers, atmospheric scientists, and fisheries biologists from federal and academic institutions. FOCI promotes cooperation between scientific disciplines, while determining the influence of the physical environment on marine populations and the subsequent impact on fisheries. Substantial variations exist in the natural processes of the Gulf of Alaska. Bering Sea, and Aleutian Islands, ranging from temperature and salinity changes, to fluctuations in sea-ice extent, atmospheric forcing, tidal influences, freshwater influx, productivity and mixed-layer depth. These variations occur on many timescales: seasonal, annual, decadal and longer. FOCI scientists integrate field, laboratory and modeling studies to determine how varying biological and physical environmental trends influence this large region.
In October of 2002 the FOCI program was awarded the U.S. Department of Commerce's Bronze Medal. FOCI was cited "for scientific achievements that have advanced fisheries oceanography and marine ecology and have contributed to building sustainable fisheries in the North Pacific."