Fisheries Research Biologist, NMFS Alaska Fisheries Science Center (Seattle, WA)

Job Description
Group Definition:  Fishery Biologists use professional knowledge and competence in the science of fishery biology to perform work: (a) developing, conserving, propagating, managing, and administering fishery resources; (b) evaluating the impact of construction projects and other socioeconomic activities that present potential or actual adverse effects on fishery resources and their habitat; and (c) producing and managing aquatic resources in their natural habitat and/or within facilities and systems that have been constructed for their benefit and public use.

Position/Project Specifics:

We are seeking a Fisheries Research Biologist to serve as a member of the Conservation Engineering project within the RACE (Resource Assessment and Conservation Engineering) Division of the Alaska Fisheries Science Center (AFSC) for nine months. Under the direction and guidance of the project lead, the incumbent will participate in research, video review, data analysis, and reporting of results from research to understand and reduce Pacific salmon bycatch in the Bering Sea commercial pollock fishery. With guidance, s/he will organize, maintain, prepare, and support underwater cameras, acoustic systems, and other sensors/equipment for observing fishing gear, fish behavior, and habitat characteristics; support the collection of data with conventional (trawl fishing gear) and innovative remote sampling (optics, acoustics) techniques; participate in research activities ashore and at-sea; contribute to data management; and contribute to analysis of data, organization and evaluation of results, and assist in the preparation of reports of findings and with outreach. S/he will need to spend up to 3-5 weeks aboard a commercial fishing vessel, helping coordinate logistics for getting equipment to remote Alaskan ports and with the mobilization/assembly and demobilization/disassembly of government-owned equipment aboard government-owned or chartered fishing vessels. At sea, daily duties are conducted in a demanding physical maritime environment that involves fisheries or oceanographic sampling operations exposed to weather, harsh conditions, over long, odd hours, lifting and moving heavy equipment on an unsteady deck, depending on sea state. The incumbent must be able to lift, by themselves or with one other person, up to 40 lbs.

Attributes of a successful candidate include: teamwork, cooperation, creativity, knowledge, timeliness, organization, respect, interest in applied fisheries research and collaboration with stakeholders, ability to communicate to a diverse set of audiences and good communication skills in general. It is desirable for the candidate to have prior experience working on a project related to conservation engineering, including bycatch, bycatch mortality, and fishing gear-habitat impacts in commercial fisheries.

Essential Functions:

At the lower end of the range, Fishery Biologists have a solid working knowledge of established scientific methods and techniques to perform recurring assignments of moderate difficulty.  Methods and techniques are well established, apply to most situations, and do not require significant deviations.  Resource planning reports generated by employees at this level involve conventional biological concerns.  Reports generated may be short-range management plans or portions of annual work plans.  Lower range work examples include:

  • Assisting with the organization, maintenance, and preparation of supplies and field gear; preparation for field work (e.g., packing, testing of equipment); mobilization and assembly of field gear on a commercial fishing vessel; and demobilization/disassembly of field gear.
  • Assisting with the installation and removal of various pieces of technological equipment in a commercial trawl net while at sea.
  • Following existing protocols for sampling fish aboard a commercial fishing vessel (species identification, length measurements, and fish counts).
  • Reviewing video both at sea and on shore that is collected from inside a commercial trawl during fishing operations.
  • Responsible for data management (organization, database creation and management, and data storage).
  • Assisting with data analysis, including preparing graphics and contributing to papers and/or reports on result of data collection and analysis.

Knowledge Required by the Position

  • Knowledge of fishery biology (preferably with knowledge of Pacific salmon, Oncorhynchus species).
  • Knowledge of the scientific method.
  • Knowledge of sampling protocols.
  • Knowledge of Windows-based computer applications such as:
    • word processing
    • spreadsheets
    • e-mail
    • publishing software
    • presentation software
    • database software
    • topographic software
    • bibliographic software
    • statistical analysis packages.
  • Knowledge of technical writing protocols.
  • Knowledge of advanced statistical analysis and mathematics.

Additional Mandatory Skills:

  • literature search/review skills
  • experience using fish keys
  • fish species ID skills
  • oral communication skills
  • written communication skills
  • ability to swim
  • ability to lift 40-50 lbs.
  • ability to live at sea on a research vessel
  • prior experience conducting research at sea

Additional Desirable Skills:

  • ability to operate GPS
  • specific software: video editing, behavioral analysis, GIS software, R data analysis
  • previous involvement with conservation engineering research, including projects evaluating bycatch, bycatch mortality, or habitat impacts on a commercial fishing vessel
  • previous experience engaging with commercial fishermen
  • previous experience using data collection equipment at sea (e.g., sensors, underwater cameras)
Scope and Effect:
The work involves projects, assignments, or research related to culturing, sampling, or recovering endangered or threatened species. Work situations may be complicated by administrative problems (such as availability of funds and personnel), the accuracy of databases, and information exchange methods. Correct stock assessments, management decisions, and study results are critical when managing for impacts on endangered and threatened species.
Physical Demands:
At sea, daily duties are conducted in a demanding physical maritime environment that involves fisheries or oceanographic sampling operations exposed to weather, harsh conditions, over long, odd hours, lifting and moving heavy equipment on an unsteady deck, depending on sea state. While at sea, there are rigorous physical demands.The incumbent must be able to lift, by themselves or with one other person, up to 40 lbs.
Work Environment:
The majority of work is performed in an office setting with adequate lighting, heating and ventilation. Some work may be performed in a laboratory setting which exposes the biologist to odors, chemicals, and fish blood. When needed, the employee must use safety precautions including MSDS, gloves, hood, and eye protection. Field work involves exposure to all types of weather, slippery rocks or docks, rough water, and/or cold water temperatures. Work aboard commercial fishing vessels will be required.
Minimum Qualification Requirements:

A range of education and experience may be presented.  At the lower end of the range, candidates must present successful completion of a full 4-year course of study in an accredited college or university leading to a bachelor’s or higher degree that included a major in biological science with at least 6 semester hours in aquatic subjects and at least 12 semester hours in the animal sciences.  In addition to the undergraduate degree requirement, candidates for positions at the lower end of the range must also present 1 year of Specialized Experience** OR 2 years of progressively higher graduate education leading to a master’s degree in fields directly related to the position being filled. An equivalent combination of experience and education is also qualifying.

**Specialized Experience is experience that equips the applicant with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform successfully the duties of the position and is typically in or related to the work of the position being filled.  To be creditable, specialized experience must have been equivalent to at least the next lower level in the normal line of progression for the position being filled.

Location: NMFS AFSC Seattle
Project Length: 9 months or less
Position Type: Temporary
Travel Requirements: 0% – 25%
Water Vessel Operation: No
Driving: Personal Vehicle – Valid driver’s license required. Offers of employment contingent upon passing driving records check.
Salary Target: $2,963.88/Semi-monthly
Closing Date: Mar 24, 2019

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