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Opportunity at National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Reducing Risk of Whale Entanglements to Whales and Fisheries in the California Current Ecosystem


National Marine Fisheries Service, Northwest Fisheries Science Center

RO# Location
26.03.39.C0205 Seattle, WA 98115


Name E-mail Phone
Samhouri, Jameal F 206-302-1740


The Ecosystem Science Program at the Northwest Fisheries Science Center conducts innovative, integrative science about connected natural and human systems to inform the stewardship of fisheries, protected species, and ocean ecosystems. This research helps to guide NOAA's mission to conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems and resources. The Program focuses on a wide range of topics, primarily related to the U.S. West Coast, and relies on approaches that range from highly qualitative to highly quantitative. We pursue Program members with diverse perspectives, are committed to inclusion, diversity, and equity, and strive for a culture of understanding, respect, long-term engagement, and accountability. We invite applicants that share these interests to join the Program via this NRC Postdoc Associate position.

We seek a highly motivated researcher to develop and implement a collaborative, interdisciplinary project focused on predicting distributions of fishing activity in the California Current ecosystem. The underlying motivation for this work is a dramatic increase in the number of reported marine mammal entanglements in fisheries gear on the U.S. West Coast since 2014. The rise in whale entanglements in fishing gear on the U.S. West Coast represents a perfect storm of environmental variability and change, shifting species distributions and fishing dynamics, and changing economic and management factors. None of these individual forces is understood perfectly, and the interactions between them even less so. Recent interactions including nearshore entanglements of baleen whales, primarily humpback whales, were driven at least in part by nearshore habitat compression of anchovies coinciding with heavy fishing effort for Dungeness crabs.

The goal of the successful candidate's research is to develop a simulation model to consider impacts of alternative fisheries management approaches (e.g., different kinds of time-area closures) on the Dungeness crab fishery (Smith et al. 2020). These simulations will be based on an existing statistical model that relates oceanographic (e.g., temperature), environmental (e.g., weather), and economic (e.g., fuel prices) conditions to the spatial distribution of fishing activity (based on fish ticket, vessel registration, and Vessel Monitoring System data; Watson et al. 2018). The simulation study would focus on expected changes in distribution of fishing effort (and therefore risk of entanglement to whales) and expected revenues under alternative scenarios. The data that will ground the analyses will include but not be limited to PacFIN fish tickets, NMFS Vessel Monitoring System geolocations of commercial fishing vessels, and environmental data available from the ERDDAP database. This work will produce one or more peer-reviewed publications, and might also include the development of real-time spatial information about the spatial distribution of Dungeness crab fishing activity and/or a Shiny app to make the simulated management scenarios more broadly available. It will set the stage for future work to couple dynamic species distribution models for whales or turtles with dynamic distribution models for fishing fleets. That future work could follow the general analytical framework of EcoCast (Hazen et al. 2018). As long as the needs of the project are met, the postdoc has freedom to follow their interests and produce publications related to the general topic area.

Experience developing and ideally leading research analyses; experience with at least one analytical software package (R preferred, MatLab, ArcGIS, Python) and statistical analysis of spatial and temporal data (e.g. generalized linear models, generalized additive models, bayesian approaches, machine learning). Knowledge of multivariate statistics or Bayesian statistics would be preferred. Must have strong willingness for collaboration with other postdoctoral researchers, students, and NOAA scientists. Applicants are welcome to include the name and pronoun they would like to be referred to in their materials and Ecosystem Science Program staff will honor this throughout the application process.

This work will support ecosystem initiatives at the National Marine Fisheries Service including but not limited to implementation of Integrated Ecosystem Assessments, the Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Management Road Map, and the National Climate Strategy.


Hazen, E.L., Scales, K.L., Maxwell, S.M., Briscoe, D.K., Welch, H., Bograd, S.J., Bailey, H., Benson, S.R., Eguchi, T., Dewar, H., Kohin, S., Costa, D.P., Crowder, L.B., Lewison, R.L., 2018. A dynamic ocean management tool to reduce bycatch and support sustainable fisheries. Science Advances 4, eaar3001.

Holsman, K., Samhouri, J., Cook, G., Hazen, E., Olsen, E., Dillard, M., Kasperski, S., Gaichas, S., Kelble, C.R., Fogarty, M., Andrews, K., 2017. An ecosystem-based approach to marine risk assessment. Ecosyst Health Sustain 3: e01256.

Smith JA, D Tommasi, J Sweeney, S Brodie, H Welch, EL Hazen, B Muhling, SM Stohs, MG Jacox. 2020. Lost opportunity: Quantifying the dynamic economic impact of time-area fishery closures. Journal of Applied Ecology.

Watson, J.R., E. Fuller, F. Catsruccio, J.F. Samhouri. 2018. Fishermen follow fine-scale physical ocean features for finance. Frontiers in Marine Science 5: 46.

Ecosystem science; Marine conservation; Climate; Ecosystem-based fisheries management; Ecosystem-based management; Climate change vulnerability; Social-ecological systems; Fisheries; Protected species; Dynamic ocean management; Fisheries economics


Citizenship:  Open to U.S. citizens, permanent residents and non-U.S. citizens
Level:  Open to Postdoctoral and Senior applicants


Base Stipend Travel Allotment Supplementation
$58,000.00 $3,000.00

Experience Supplement:
Postdoctoral and Senior Associates will receive an appropriately higher stipend based on the number of years of experience past their PhD.

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