Since the onset of fisheries science, monitoring programs have been implemented to support stock assessments and fisheries management. Here, we take inventory of the monitoring programs of the U.S. Gulf of Mexico (GOM) surveying fish and invertebrates and conduct a gap analysis of these programs. We also compile a large monitoring database encompassing much of the monitoring data collected in the U.S. GOM using random sampling schemes and employ this database to fit statistical models to then map the spatial distributions of 61 fish and invertebrate functional groups, species and life stages of the U.S. GOM. Finally, we provide recommendations for improving current monitoring programs and designing new programs, and guidance for more comprehensive use and sharing of monitoring data, with the ultimate goal of enhancing the inputs provided to stock assessments and ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM) projects in the U.S. GOM. Our inventory revealed that 73 fisheries-independent and fisheries-dependent programs have been conducted in the U.S. GOM, most of which (85%) are still active. One distinctive feature of monitoring programs of the U.S. GOM is that they include many fisheries-independent surveys conducted almost year-round, contrasting with most other marine regions. A major sampling recommendation is the development of a coordinated strategy for collecting diet information by existing U.S. GOM monitoring programs for advancing EBFM.