Ocean Career: WDFW Coastal Marine Fish Scientific Technician

Would you enjoy participating in at-sea research studies, and collecting data on recreational and commercial marine fish fisheries?

Provide essential scientific information that will be used to assess and manage marine fish species that support economically and socially valuable commercial and recreational ocean fisheries off Washington, Oregon, and California.

In this dynamic role, you will also sample recreational groundfish (e.g., rockfish, lingcod) catches.

You thrive on building collaboration and teamwork, communicating with charter skippers, commercial dealers and other Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Units regarding daily schedules and logistics.

We are seeking a candidate to collect data that are used by state and federal scientists in stock assessments that inform both the status and management of healthy coastal marine fish populations and overfished species under federal rebuilding plans.


Here are some things you will do in this role:

Dockside sample marine fish landings at Washington’s coastal ports, primarily at Ilwaco, Chinook, and Westport, and secondarily at La Push and Neah Bay. Collect biological, catch, and effort information on commercial and recreational groundfish, commercial CPS (anchovy, sardine, mackerel, squid) fisheries, and research project landings (e.g., International Pacific Halibut Commission):

  • Collect biological information (weight, length, sex, maturity, genetic tissue samples, ageing structures) on various marine fish species caught by research, commercial, and recreational fisheries.
  • Evaluate catch and species composition of fishery landings.
  • Correctly identify marine fish species including the approximately 100 species of groundfish and 10 coastal pelagic species found on the Washington coast.

Participate in at-sea research surveys of the marine fish species, i.e., groundfish and coastal pelagic species (CPS) that inhabit Washington’s coastal waters from the Washington/Oregon border to the Sekiu River—Strait of Juan de Fuca. Some CPS research surveys extend to the California/Mexico border:

  • Deploy on multiple single day trips and/or extended research trips of up to 3 weeks on agency research vessels, chartered research vessels, or commercial fishery vessels (extended trips are on an as-need basis which typically occur no more than once per season/year and include periodic stops at port).
  • Assist with daily project operations, including but not limited to, collect fishing effort and catch composition data, collect biological data (e.g., weight, length, age structures, genetic tissue samples, eDNA), accurately identify species.
  • Complete preseason preparation and postseason wrap up assignments.

Process samples at the Region 6 headquarters laboratory:

  • Process fins (dry, cut, mount), otoliths, spines, vertebras, and other fish structures or tissues for age reading or other scientific evaluation.
  • Dissect fish specimens for biological data collection, tag retrieval, and/or preservation.
  • Process sediment, water, or other environmental samples from research surveys or studies.


Work Setting, including hazards:

  • Work settings may include onboard vessels while at-sea, coastal beaches and estuaries, fish buying facilities, recreational or commercial fishing docks, laboratories, and office environments. At-sea work is done during rough seas and inclement weather.
  • At-sea duties may be performed onboard agency-owned vessels, chartered vessels, or commercial fishing vessels in unprotected coastal waters where sea state conditions can deteriorate quickly. Assigned duties and tasks are expected to be completed in any sea state condition the vessel captain and lead biologist deem safe.
  • Some extended at-sea trips may require living onboard vessels for up to 30 days with limited or reduced accommodations (i.e., bunking in shared space, water restrictions for bathing, basic cooking facilities).
  • Assigned work will be conducted in rough seas, in severe inclement weather, and on slippery/uneven/steep/moving decks and docks. Climbing steps/ladders, frequent and repetitive lifting of up to 50 pounds unassisted over a 10-hour work shift, communicating on a CB/VHF radio, and hearing/communicating over loud motors and other vessel equipment is necessary to successfully perform all tasks. Processing biological samples requires sitting in a laboratory setting up to 10 hours per shift.
  • Other potential hazards include vessel mechanical failure; risk of puncture wounds and lacerations from sampling equipment, knives, or fish spines; and repetitive stress injury from processing fish samples and computer data entry.
  • Must be able to negotiate water in emergency situations.


  • Schedule is highly variable and very demanding depending on the activity. Schedule flexibility is crucial as work is dictated by ocean/weather conditions and by vessel offload schedules.
  • This position involves working days, evenings, nights, and weekends.
  • At-sea surveys can require up to 14-hour workdays and up to 80-hour workweeks. Dockside sampling involves up to 14-hour workdays but is typically conducted within a 40-hour workweek.
  • Field work does not have a set schedule (24/7) and is very dependent on ocean conditions and vessel schedules. Office/lab work is typically 8-5, M-F or 4-10s.

Travel Requirements:

  • Highly variable depending on activity. Travel is necessary for some projects and will entail multiple nights at hotel/motel accommodations at agency expense.
  • Extended travel of up to one month may be required to accomplish at-sea surveys.

Tools and Equipment:

  • Vehicles or vessels will be used to access needed information.
  • Environmental sensing equipment and visual survey equipment, personal computer, electronic data loggers, electronic and mechanical scales, fishing rods/reels, pressure washer, tagging guns, knives, dissection tools measuring boards, and cameras.

Customer Interactions:

  • Interacts with the general public while port sampling and provides basic information regarding fisheries resources as well as agency programs and activities. Provides sport fishing regulatory information to the public. Contact with some individuals who may be angry, distraught, or frustrated. Interact with commercial skippers, crew, and research biologists and scientists (state and federal) during research surveys. Will interact with office staff and dockside crew at commercial fish dealer/processing plants. Reports suspected violators and serves as expert witness in specific court cases.


Graduation from high school or GED including one year of high school science, and two (2) years of experience as a Scientific Technician 1.


Graduation from high school or GED including one year of high school science, and two (2) years of laboratory or field experience as an assistant to a biologist, chemist, or zoologist.

Please note:

  • College course work involving major study in biology, zoology, fisheries, chemistry, natural sciences, or closely allied field will substitute year-for-year for experience, provided the course work includes at least 6 semester or 9 quarter hours of natural science classes.


  • Valid driver’s license.

Special Requirement/Condition of Employment:

  • Successful completion of agency training and/or certification for assigned watercraft is dependent on supervisory direction, position need, and training availability.


In addition to those required qualifications, our ideal applicant will also have some or all of the following:

General Knowledge:

  • Familiarity with commercial fishery landing and processing operations, and sport fishery operations.
  • Knowledge of commercial and sport fishing marine gears, methods, and regulations.
  • Working knowledge of marine fish sampling techniques and random sample design.


  • Strong marine fish species identification skills; can correctly identify the approximately 100 species of groundfish and 10 coastal pelagic species found on the Washington coast.
  • Skilled at procedures for collecting and processing biological ageing structures (otoliths, fins) from a variety of marine fish species.
  • Ability to collect data systematically with a high degree of accuracy, precision, and completeness.

Operating Equipment

  • Familiar with the operation of electronic sampling and tagging equipment including CWT and PIT tag equipment, environmental sensing equipment, and GPS tracking equipment.
  • Experience trailering and operating outboard vessels; can safely and expertly operate agency research vessels.
  • Familiar with laboratory equipment including microscopes, precision saws and fume hoods; capable of operating lab equipment safely following State and Federal guidelines.


  • Basic skills using Excel, iForm, Access, and email software.
  • Skilled in collecting real time data accurately and with minimal errors on electronic devices while in the field, including at sea.
  • Can proficiently review and compile data collected by themselves for quality control.

Communication Abilities

  • Strong skills in diplomacy and relationship building between coworkers, stakeholders, and the general public.
  • Capable of communicating and being easily accessible via phone and e-mail.
  • Can clearly communicate verbally and in writing with individuals and groups within and outside of the agency.

Salary Details: $3,376.00 - $4,497.00 Monthly

Deadline: May 12, 2024

Learn more about this opportunity and how to apply.

Our Partners

Frontiers in Marine Science

ECO Magazine is a marine science trade publication committed to bringing scientists and professionals the latest ground-breaking research, industry news, and job opportunities from around the world.


8502 SW Kansas Ave
Stuart, FL 34997


Newsletter Signup

The ECO Newsletter is a weekly email featuring the Top 10 stories of the past seven days, providing readers with a convenient way to stay abreast on the latest ocean science and industry news.