COAST Student Internships Summer 2016

California State Lands Commission Marine Invasive Species Program Ballast Water Internship


Host: The California State Lands Commission – Marine Invasive Species Program (CSLC-MISP) is a statewide program tasked with developing and implementing science-based policies to reduce the risk of introducing aquatic nonindigenous species into California waters through commercial shipping activities. The CSLC-MISP accomplishes this goal by identifying and funding targeted research, convening stakeholder discussions to inform policy development, and conducting outreach and enforcement of existing policies.

Location: Hercules or Sacramento; occasional travel to local ports around the San Francisco Estuary.

Internship Dates: June 6 - August 19, 2016; start and end dates flexible with regard to student’s academic commitments.

Stipend: $4,000.00

Time Commitment: The internship is a full time, 11-week commitment. Over the 11 weeks, the intern may take up to five days off for personal reasons, vacation or illness. If participation is less than 100%, the stipend will be pro-rated.

Position Description and Responsibilities: California receives approximately 10,000 commercial vessel arrivals to its ports every year. While in California, many of these vessels will discharge ballast water that was taken on in other parts of the world. Ballast water is necessary for many functions related to the trim, stability, and maneuverability of vessels. As ballast water is transferred from one port (source) to another (recipient), so are the millions of organisms taken into the ballast tanks along with the water. Once discharged to a new place, these organisms can become established, adversely impacting the local environment, human health, or economy.

Identifying certain factors that increase the risk of an organism becoming established is necessary to enhance the management of the particular vector (e.g. ballast water) in question. A main risk factor of the ballast water vector is the similarity in habitat between source and recipient ports. Discharged ballast water that contains source water from a similar habitat to the discharge port will also contain organisms that are potentially better suited to survive in the discharge port. Therefore, understanding habitat characteristics of source ports will improve the understanding of the risk of introduction and establishment of new organisms in California waters as a result of ballast water activities.

One (1) internship is available to work with CSLC-MISP scientists on a project associated with the development of a risk assessment matrix for vessels discharging ballast water in California. To accomplish these goals, the intern will:

  1. Collect data on the physical characteristics of the most common ballast water source ports and all California ports.
    1. Identify the most common ballast water source ports using analysis of existing MISP data.
    2. Characterize the physical features of ports using existing data sources, which will need to be identified before beginning the project. The physical characteristics of California ports will also be identified through existing data sources, with the potential of collecting additional data from the field.
  2. Analyze existing MISP data on vessel traffic patterns to better understand the connectivity of source ports to California ports. This analysis will better provide an understanding of the potential risk a vessel discharging ballast water will pose based upon the source of the water and where it will be discharging.

The intern will be required to produce a report focused on the collection and analysis of data collected during the internship, and will present these results during an informal presentation to MISP and Commission staff.

Preferred Experience and Capabilities: Experience in marine biology or related marine field is necessary. Knowledge of invasive species biology, Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint and Access is a plus. The intern must be highly organized and be capable of effective oral and written communication.

Skills Gained: The intern will gain a solid understanding of the factors that facilitate species introductions as well as some of the tools used to develop risk assessments of potential introductions. The intern will gain firsthand experience working within a statewide program focused on invasive species prevention through vector management. The intern will have the opportunity to:

  • Interact with an extensive network of state, federal, and international scientists and other stakeholders;
  • Board commercial ships and interact with international ship crews; and
  • Observe and participate in California’s process of developing policies/regulations that will impact a global industry.

Eligibility/Requirements: The internship is intended for an upper-class undergraduate student (juniors/seniors) or graduate student, in good academic standing with their university. Interns must be at least 18 years old and must have a valid driver’s license. The intern must be able to work independently and interact in a professional manner with MISP management and scientists. The internship may require travel among Commission offices in Sacramento, Hercules, and Long Beach.

Applicants are also subject to additional eligibility and requirements that can be found here.

Return to Announcement for Application and Additional Requirements >>