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Salary– $3,616.00 – $4,738.00 Monthly

Our PSSU Vessel Operations Project Leader, 

  • Plans and organizes all on the water operations activities of Puget Sound Sampling unit. On the water operations includes organizing, planning, and conducting recreational boat surveys and test fishing in Marine Areas 5-13. This involves advanced season planning with unit staff and managers as well as real time communication during boat surveys and test fishing.
  • Coordinates with field supervisors, HQ sampling staff, and other intergovernmental salmon management staff on vessel planning and in-season activities to ensure all on the water boat surveys and test fishing sampling is conducted on schedule, and the field data is submitted and accurate.
  • Provides feedback to the unit and agency staff on boat survey and test fishing design and forms. Assists with the operational manuals for these procedures.
  • Communicates and coordinates with Puget Sound Sampling Unit regional and support staff, marinas, facilities, and maintenance shops, to schedule routine and yearly moorage and maintenance for vessels.
  • Maintains vessel readiness and safety equipment checks of all unit boats.
  • Participates in external forums or groups to promote on the water monitoring and safety.
  • Provides recommendations on staffing levels for boat operations to the unit manager.
  • Assists field supervisors with the inventory of all vessels and related equipment and tracks changes.
  • Pilots WDFW research vessels to conduct test fishing.
  • Uses a variety of methods (e.g. weight and bait, downrigger, jigging, diver) to emulate the recreational fishing fleet. Operate outboard and inboard/outboard motorboats, including trailering, launching, coming alongside other boats in motion, launching and docking in all types of weather conditions.
  • Performs minor routine maintenance on the boat, motor(s), boat trailers, and test fishing equipment. Operate GPS, depth finder, AIS, VHF, and electronic data collection devices.
  • Collects biological data on salmon catch to obtain stock composition (DNA), age structure (scales), length information (legal & sublegal proportions) and hatchery/natural-origin fractions (mark-status proportions).
  • Pilots WDFW research vessels to conduct on the water boat surveys. Intercepts recreational and charter fishing vessels at sea (stationary and while trolling) to conduct angler effort interviews.
  • Reviews data, maintain vessels and sampling equipment.
  • Interviews as many recreational fishery anglers as possible at assigned boat launch facilities.
  • Classifies, sorts, and enumerates marked (adipose fin-clipped) tagged, marked untagged, unmarked tagged, and unmarked untagged salmon.
  • Retrieves snouts with CWTs from Chinook and Coho salmon to determine stock specific impacts for fisheries modeling.
  • Samples recreational salmon catch for biological data including DNA, age (scales), fork length and sex ratios.


  • Work Setting, including hazards:
    1. Work is done both inside/outside, during inclement weather, rough water, noise, odors, repetitive movements of hands, finger manipulations, long periods of sitting, squatting, walking, boating, climbing in and out of boats, sampling salmon in a boat, carrying, kneeling, lifting boating and sampling equipment weighing up to 40 pounds, working and standing in a confined space, fish blood and slime, slippery surfaces, rain gear, equipment holsters, personal floatation devices (PFD), agency identifying clothing, biting and stinging insects, and use of knives.
  • Schedule:
    1. This position is 24/7 (non-scheduled); 8-10 hours per day between 5 a.m. and 11 p.m. 40 hours per week; weekend and evening work required.
  • Travel Requirements:
    1. Puget Sound area; seldom overnight.
  • Tools and Equipment:
    1. Outboard motorboat operation including proper and safe fueling, boat trailer, GPS, compass, data logger, fishing tackle and gear including downriggers, computer, pickup trucks, cell phones, electronic sampling equipment, iPads, weighing scale, VHF radio, AIS, Radar, calculator, knives, PFD, marine survival suit, rubber boots, rain gear.
  • Customer Interactions:
    1. Interacts with the general public during data collection and provides basic information regarding fish resources as well as agency programs and activities.
    2. Provides sport fishing regulatory information to the public. Includes some contact with those who may be angry, distraught, or frustrated.
    3. Liaison to regional supervisor on fishery violations observed in the field.
    4. Interacts with Intergovernmental salmon team to ensure Puget Sound wide sampling and monitoring goals are achieved.


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.


  • Graduation from high school or GED, including one year of high school science AND five (5) years of experience as a Scientific Technician, three (3) years of which much be as a Scientific Technician 2 and/or 3.


  • Graduation from high school or GED including one year of high school science AND five (5) years of laboratory or field experience as an assistant to a biologist, chemist, or zoologist.


  • Valid driver’s license.


  • At least one (1) year of experience operating 16- to 23-foot motorboats in marine waters such as Puget Sound or an equivalent area.
  • At least one (1) year recreational salmon fishing experience in marine waters.

Ability to:

  • Operate vessels in adverse conditions in the waters of Puget Sound.
  • Obtain First Aid/CPR certification within 6 months of hire.

Proficient use of:

  • Typical marine vessel electronics (e.g. GPS, depth finder, radar, radio).
  • Microsoft office suite (MS Excel, Word, Outlook, Teams, Adobe Acrobat).


  • Able to ID all salmon species, common marine fish species, and crab species.
  • Familiar with salmon, marine fish, and shellfish life histories and sport fishing regulations.
  • Excellent attention to detail and good communication skills.
  • The use of sound judgement where safety of you and co-workers are concerned.
  • Experience working with members of the public.