Position Description

Fisheries Observer Assistant Area Lead
Work Location Falmouth, MA
Exemption Status Exempt
Full Time or Part Time Full time
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The Northeast Fisheries Observer Program (NEFOP) provides observer coverage of several Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Federal and state fisheries. The Fisheries Sampling Branch (FSB) trains and monitors the performance of fisheries observers while sampling onboard commercial fishing vessels from Maine through North Carolina, USA. Deployment of observers is conducted by an observer service provider. The data collected by observers is tracked, edited, audited, and uploaded to a master database by NEFOP staff. Data is provided to a variety of end-users and stakeholders for use in fisheries management decision making. The fisheries coverage is split between the Northeast and MidAtlantic areas. NOAA Fisheries has established national safety standards to prepare fisheries observers for the hazards associated with commercial fishing operations. 

Position Description
This position is within the Fisheries Sampling Branch (FSB) at NOAA's Northeast Fisheries Science Center. The Assistant Area Lead will work alongside two other Assistant Area Leads. The successful candidate will assist the Area Lead with planning, coordinating and executing observer coverage in fisheries throughout the Region. This includes field (dock) visits to meet with vessel captains, observers, and Area Coordinators to locate and identify fishing efforts by area and gear type to ensure that coverage rates are keeping with end-user needs. Responsibilities include understanding program protocols and possible solutions to problems observers encounter or could encounter in the field; recommend changes and provide guidance to improve observer data/sample collection procedures and overall data quality; and conduct post-trip interviews with captains to evaluate observer and contractor compliance and interviews to answer questions and resolve problems. This position also creates, mails and tracks vessel selection letters, if necessary, to target specific vessels for coverage, while ensuring the vessel selection is random and without bias. Will document and share with pertinent NOAA, Office of Law Enforcement (OLE), and contracting staff communications with observers by updating the observer web portal daily. Will create memos that consist of information necessary to support a 'refusal' case for OLE. Will document research conducted and conclusions for vessel deemed on the Vessel of Concern list as collected.  Other specific duties and deliverables include:

  • Provide monthly progress report to include, but not limited to, the following: accomplishments, issues encountered, travel (including purpose, significant outcomes, action items), recommendations, if applicable. 
  • Provide written recommendations for changes and improvements to data/sample collection procedures and protocols, regulatory compliance information, and safety information to pertinent NOAA staff and contractors as needed. 
  • Document and track vessel selection letters in an organized manner to provide to pertinent Branch staff daily. 
  • Communicate regularly with NOAA and contracting staff regarding fishing effort by area and gear, observer and contractor performance, research and protocol development, regulatory requirements, content as a result of observer debriefings daily. 
  • Assist the Area Lead with planning, coordinating, and executing observer coverage in fisheries throughout the Region. This will require field (dock) visits to meet with vessel captains, observers, and Area Coordinators to locate and identify fishing effort by area and gear type to ensure that coverage rates are in keeping with end-user needs. 
  • Will work on understanding program protocols and possible solutions to problems observers may be encountering in the field.
  • Will recommend changes and improvements to data/sample collection procedures and protocols, as necessary.
  • Creates, mails and tracks vessel selection letters, if necessary, to target specific vessels for coverage. Ensures that vessel selection is random, equitable, and without bias. 
  • Monitors call-in compliance of call-in regulated fisheries and reports monthly to Area Lead.  
  • Works to understand how observer program data are used by end-users and stakeholders to educate fishermen and observers.  
  • Conducts interviews with vessel captains and reports to Area Lead. Assists with evaluating observer and contractor performance.  
  • Observes commercial fisheries not yet covered that may require outreach, research, and protocol development, or observes currently covered fisheries to maintain or become observer certified or as a trip trainer. 
  • Schedules and conducts, dockside, post trip interviews with fishing vessel captains to answer questions or concerns, resolve problems, schedule future trips and monitor observer's performance. 
  • Provide observers with guidance for data quality improvement when necessary by providing feedback. 
  • Provides performance and background information for observer debriefings, when requested. 
  • Conducts exit interviews and six-month debriefings, when requested. 
  • Informs Area Lead of important and controversial data and compliance issues. 
  • Follows-up on safety deficiency and refusal reports. 
  • Develop program level memo's that consist of information necessary to support a 'refusal' case for use by the OLE. 
  • Keeps Area Lead informed of any substandard data collection performance by observers. 
  • Research and tracks vessel of concern issues and communicates with the Area Lead. 
  • Travels to various fishing ports, as part of outreach, meeting with the commercial fishing industry to explain or answer questions concerning the observer program. Such outreach will be conducted to help improve industry/observer program relations and facilitate observer placement.
  • Travels to Fishery Management Council meetings or other meetings that are relevant to coverage of fisheries
  • Maintains and updates regulatory compliance information for observer dissemination. 
  • Responds to information requests (requests for NEFOP data) and coordinates with Area Lead and Data Processing Lead. Coordinates data quality checks with data debriefers and Data Quality Lead. 
  • Produces monthly seaday coverage reports for NEFOP website. Tracks seaday accomplishments monthly. Tracks tasking request changes monthly and coordinates with Northeast Area lead. Assists with other reporting tasks, as necessary. 
  • General office tasks as necessary: filing, organizing, compiling information. General research projects: gathering information on the internet, researching a problem or issue that has arisen that needs a response. Documenting decisions and communicating with Northeast Area Lead. Field testing of computer equipment, observer gear or supplies or fishing gear related to local fisheries, as required. 
  • Attend Plan Development Team (PDT) meetings to stay updated on future rule and regulatory changes. 
  • May be assigned periodic regional outreach events. 
  • Will deploy as needed on shadow trips, trip trainer trips and probation/priority (Data Quality) trips. 
  • Develop and implement research projects and protocols in collaboration with the fishing industry and scientific community. 
  • Provide field and laboratory support for all data collection and monitoring initiatives of the NESFC Fisheries Monitoring Operations Branch. 
  • Coordinate technical assistance at sea and ashore, coordinate training and equipment deployment aboard commercial fishing vessels, troubleshoot electronic data acquisition systems, collect data, and maintain scientific protocols that ensure research results meet research objectives.
  • Perform processing of fish and living marine resource specimens or samples for their use as  biological data, including but not limited to analysis of age, growth, maturity, and diet.
  • View and analyze video data.  

Required Skills
An interest in fishery science, fishery management and a general knowledge of analytical techniques. Ability to communicate well in both the office and field environments. Ability to communicate well in the office and field environment. Ability to perform at-sea observer related duties. Mentoring training and experience. Conflict Resolution training and experience. Program planning and management in a team environment. Developing performance metrics and milestones. Experience working with diverse interagency teams. Excellent verbal and written communication skills. Experience working with marine fisheries information programs or other science-based programs. Biological research experience at the college or professional level. Proficient in current MS Office software programs. Proficiency in GIS, other statistical packages, Oracle or other relational database management systems and SQL programming language is preferred. Observer experience, small boat operator, and/or working on commercial fishing vessels experience is preferred

Must be a US Citizen or Permanent Resident and be able to pass a background investigation to obtain a security badge to enter the applicable government facility.

BS in Marine Biology, Fisheries, related degree, or equivalent. 

Place of Performance
NOAA is under mandatory telework at this time; however, when this restriction is lifted the work will be conducted on-site at the NOAA Facility at Tech Park East, Falmouth, MA. 

Full time position with potential for 200 hours of overtime per year. 

ERT is a VEVRAA Federal Contractor and Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer - All qualified applicants will be considered for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or protected Veteran status.

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