Ocean Career: OAI Stock Assessment Specialist

Ocean Associates Inc. is looking for a Stock Assessment Specialist to work with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC).

The Stock Assessment Specialist will work directly with staff in the NEFSC Population Dynamics Branch (PDB) on analyses of regional fishery stock assessments to produce estimates of stock status and reference points for a range of fish stocks. This work will support the Wind Development Impacts on Stock Assessments project.

NOAA Fisheries conducts stock assessments of economically important marine resources to provide scientific information for the regional fishery management councils and other management partners. The Population Dynamics Branch supports development of new tools and software for stock assessment in collaboration with regional stock assessment scientists and the national Assessment Methods Working Group (AMWG). Development of new tools and software at the national level advances NMFS’ stock assessment science, improves standardization and ensures that development is completed to high levels of testing and documentation. Additionally, this effort supports a defined process for evaluating and operationalizing the development of new regional tools for inclusion in the NOAA Fisheries Toolbox (NFT). Many existing tools used by NMFS have been created in-house with varying degrees of generality, accessibility, testing, documentation, and best practices.

Fish stock assessment models compute the historical levels of fish stock abundance and fishing mortality that are most consistent with observed trends in abundance data, the fish’s biology, and historical catch levels. Assessment models produce estimates of important fishery management factors and provide the technical basis for managers to determine stock status and set annual catch limits and other fishery management measures to maintain sustainable fishing and healthy ecosystems.

The long-term fishery-independent Bottom Trawl Survey (BTS) operated by the NEFSC is used in many stock assessments to inform assessment models of relative trends in fish populations. Rapid development of offshore wind capacity in the waters off the northeast coast of the United States will reduce access of the BTS to historic sampling sites. Indices developed from the BTS play an important role in stock assessments and changes to its operations will affect our interpretation of population trends. In an attempt to quantify the impact of excluded sampling sites on fishery-independent indices, the stock assessment specialist will work directly with lead stock assessment scientists to develop an analytical approach to compare stock status and reference points without the excluded sites. Focus will be on species that use index-based assessment approaches, including silver hake (Merluccius bilinearis). The Stock Assessment Specialist will take the lead with exploration of modified survey data for fish stocks assessed by the NEFSC and work with a team of Population Dynamics researchers with experience in this topic.


  • Explore the impact of restricted survey sampling locations on fishery-independent indices of abundance.
  • Perform index-based single-species stock assessments and calculate reference points under the guidance of the lead stock assessment scientists.
  • Conduct comparisons of stock status and reference points between assessment models using the existing and modified BTS indices.
  • Present findings at workshops or conferences.
  • Lead the publication of significant results in peer review journals.

Location: Woods Hole, MA.

Salary & Benefits: This is a full-time position with a comprehensive benefit package. Salary commensurate with experience and qualifications, $35 - $41 per hour.

Qualifications & Skills:

  • Possess a graduate degree in fisheries, quantitative ecology, or related field.
  • Possess experience in the R programming language.
  • Have familiarity with stock assessments or management of fish resources, including calculation of reference points.
  • Course work in Fisheries, Marine Biology, Mathematics or Statistics is desirable.
  • Possess the ability to handle multiple tasks and deadlines with flexibility between tasks.
  • Demonstrate excellent verbal and written communication skills.
  • Be capable of making presentations to various peer-review and management audiences.
  • Be capable of working as part of a team.
  • Be capable of working independently on analyses and providing regular summaries and recommended next steps to the team based on results.

Learn more about this opportunity and how to apply.

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