COAST Student Internships Summer 2019

​​National Marine Fisheries Service 

West Coast Region Protected Resources Division 

Whale Entanglement Internship


Host: NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is dedicated to protecting and preserving our nation's living marine resources through scientific research, fisheries management, enforcement, and habitat conservation. The West Coast Region of NMFS administers a variety of programs along the coasts of Washington, Oregon and California; and in the vast inland habitats of Washington, Oregon, California and Idaho. We work to conserve, protect, and manage resources under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and Marine Mammal Protection Act​, and sustainably manage West Coast fisheries as guided by the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation Act.

Location: NMFS West Coast Regional Office (map) in Seattle, WA

Internship Dates: June 3 - August 16, 2019; start and end dates flexible with regard to student’s academic commitments.

Stipend: $5,000

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: The entanglement of whales in commercial and recreational fishing gear and other types of marine debris has emerged as one of the most important issues facing the protection of whales and management of human activities along the U.S. West Coast in recent years. In response, NMFS has been working with numerous partners in industry, government, and conservation to address this issue, including participation in the California Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group convened by the State of California. This Working Group has developed a Risk Assessment and Mitigation Program (RAMP) to help guide management actions by the State to help reduce this problem. One (1) internship is offered during the summer of 2019 to work with NMFS to help support our engagement with the CA Working Group and continued development and implementation of the RAMP in 2019 and beyond.

This internship will place a student in a dynamic work environment that responds to ongoing developments in the scientific and management issues surrounding this issue on a regular basis. As part of the effort to assist NMFS with engagement in RAMP development and support of the CA Working Group, along with participation in other initiatives along the U.S. West Coast, anticipated duties that may be involved with this internship include: 

  • Conducting/assisting with analysis of whale entanglement data to evaluate key factors associated with entanglements, including development of models to compare entanglement origins vs. their subsequent sighting and report;
  • Development and maintenance of profiles of entangled whales for quick evaluation of in-season entanglement reports that can be shared with entanglement responders;
  • Review of entanglement records for QA/QC to support accurate accounting and reporting;
  • Participation in meetings and phone calls alongside NMFS staff as part of wide-ranging engagement with stakeholder to address the entanglement issue coastwide.

Preferred Experience and Capabilities: This internship will require excellent verbal, written, organizational, and analytical skills. Experience with data management (MS Office and MS Access) and quantitative data analysis is necessary. Experience with development of models to assist with data analysis will be desired. Previous experience working with marine mammal conservation or fisheries bycatch management issues is a plus. The intern must be comfortable working independently at times and flexible to accommodate changing priorities as they develop. 

Skills Gained: The intern will practice focused and dedicated attention to detailed organization of information, and complete challenging assignments on short notice as necessary. The intern will become familiar with how a government organization functions in response to dynamic events as they transpire. The intern will gain perspective on science, management, and policy issues related to marine mammal conservation while addressing a complex fisheries bycatch problem from the perspective of the federal government. The intern will gain experience working independently while connecting remotely with a wide range of colleagues working toward the same mission. The intern will be able to directly contribute to ongoing efforts to address an important issue in marine mammal conservation.  

Eligibility/Requirements: The internship is intended for upperclassmen (juniors/seniors) and graduate students. Intern must be 18 years or older. Applicants must be able to work independently and interact in a professional manner with other government staff, scientists, other interested stakeholders, and the public. Interns must be able to organize various streams of information, comfortable working with data, and capable of performing quantitative and/or analytical work. Local travel in/around Seattle with NMFS staff may be occasionally required as needed to execute this project. A Federal background investigation, to include fingerprints and character references, is required. Applicants are also subject to general eligibility requirements.


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