Salary: $2,957.00 – $3,915.00 Monthly
Location: Thurston County – Olympia, WA
Job Type: On-Call
Job Number: 2023-06104
Department: Dept. of Fish and Wildlife
Opening Date: 05/04/2023
Closing Date: 6/1/2023 11:59 PM Pacific

Fish Program – Puget Sound Commercial Salmon Monitoring Program

Anticipated Appointment Length: 7.5 months
 May 15, 2023 – December 31, 2023

Are you interested in being onboard commercial fishing vessels and collecting data valuable for in-season fishery management? Join the commercial fishing vessel crew and conduct a variety of onboard sampling, sample processing, and work with data. Apply today and start your next adventure with WDFW!

With that in mind, 
Picture yourself using paper and electronic sampling methods to accurately record data on catch, by-catch, and vessel effort data.

With your experience you will collect biological samples such as tissue for gonadosomatic index (GSI), DNA analysis, scales, sex, lengths, otoliths, and possible bird carcasses.

You thrive on building collaboration and teamwork and will work closely with the boat pilots, biologists, and fishery managers in the Fish Management unit.

We are seeking a candidate with demonstrated values matching those of WDFW: Accountability, Service, Professionalism, Integrity, Respect, and Empathy (ASPIRE).

Our Fishery Observer,  
Board fishing vessels and complete onboard fish sampling and data collection: 

  • Interact professionally with commercial fishing crews and captains. 
  • Identify salmon and other marine fish by species and record the marked status of all salmon. 
  • Document soak time, mesh size, compliance with recovery box use, utilize standard detection protocols to detect coded wire tag (CWT) presence/absence, and the condition of salmon upon release from recovery box. 
  • Observe and record seabird and marine mammal interaction and encounters with fishing gear.
  • Review and summarize data for mid-day and end of day reporting – requires maintaining organized and legible records of data collected, observations and biological samples while on-board.

Other duties as needed by the commercial fishing vessel team: 

  • Participate as Research Vessel deck crew – includes handling lines, assisting in vessel maintenance, loading gear, assisting in launch/retrieval, and following vessel operators’ instructions. 


  • Work Setting, including hazards:
    • Exposure to rough seas and inclement weather conditions, cold and hot temperatures on research boats – some boats do not have bathroom facilities, marine grade portable toilet will be available, or may dock to use shoreside facilities.
    • Requires sampling on a working commercial fishing vessel, transferring safely from one (1) boat to a fishing vessel while vessels are underway. 
    • Must be able to negotiate water in emergency situations. 
  • Schedule:
    • Intermittent/On-Call – 7 days a week – 12 plus hours per day – plus additional travel hours as needed. 
  • Travel Requirements:
    • Observers will be required to travel to and from their duty station to the location of the research boat using their personal vehicle – travel often occurs in the early morning or late evening.  
    • Overnight stays are expected when sampling the fishing fleet in certain areas. 
    • Mileage from duty station to the vessels and hotel stays are reimbursable. Hours over 40 hours per week accrues as compensation time or is paid out each payroll period. 
  • Tools and Equipment:
    • iPads, thumb counters, Coded Wire Tag (CWT) wands, forceps, isopropyl alcohol, generic office equipment, personal flotation device (PFD), genetic supplies, and other safety equipment.
  • Customer Interactions:
    • Interacts with commercial fisherman including vessel captains and crews.


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


  • Graduation from high school or GED including one (1) year of high school science AND two (2) years of laboratory of 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 six semester or nine quarter hours of natural science classes.


  • Valid Driver’s License. 


  • College course work in science or a related field.


  • Identifying salmon, marine fish, sturgeon, and marine mammals (pinniped).
  • Fisheries sampling. 
  • With small boats and being capable of working at sea. 
  • Accurately recording information. 
  • Communicating with the public.  

Special Requirements/Conditions of Employment: 

  • Successful completion of agency training and/or certification for assigned watercraft is dependent on supervisory direction, position need and training availability.  
  • May require the use of a personal vehicle with mileage reimbursement. 

To Apply
Please note: Failure to follow the instructions below may lead to disqualification.
In order to successfully apply for this position, you MUST complete your profile at and attach the following to your profile before completing the online application:

  • A cover letter describing how you meet the qualifications of this position (Generic cover letter will not be accepted).
  • A current resume. 
  • Three professional references. 

For more information and to apply:

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