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Jill Swasey

Chain of Custody Auditors

By | Employment, Version 2017

MRAG Americas is recruiting for several Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Chain of Custody Auditors.  The successful applicants would perform Chain of Custody audits, write reports and help maintain client relationships.  MRAG Americas will provide training.  We are looking for auditors in the following locations:

  • Mid-Atlantic and South
  • Southern California

We currently anticipate an average of 3-4 days’ work per month, with the potential of increasing days as our client list and program grows.  This is a contract position

Position Title:  MSC Chain of Custody Auditor

Office Location:  Selected auditors will work from their own home or office.


  • Perform audits (including pre-audit preparation and post-audit follow up) and write reports against the MSC’s Chain of Custody Standard and Certification Requirements using MRAG Americas’ document templates
  • Participate in annual training


  • 5 years’ work experience including 2 years food-related, in supply chain management, science, trace-ability or policy development, OR
  • Degree or equivalent in business, economics, science or technical program and 3 years work experience including 2 years food-related, in supply chain management, science, traceability or policy development. Examples of technical qualifications include: supply chain and logistics management, food/seafood science and fisheries science.
  • Ability and willingness to travel several times per month for short trips (typically no more than 1-2 nights)
  • Exceptional organizational skills and attention to detail, strict adherence to deadlines
  • Good interpersonal communication skills

Compensation:  $40-50/hour

Contact:  Please e-mail cover letter and CV to Jennie Harrington,

Closing Date: Open

North Pacific Observer Program Positions

By | Employment, Version 2017

Required Qualifications

All observer positions require a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree with a minimum of 30 semester hours of biology courses to qualify for the government training. In addition, the NMFS AK Groundfish (North Pacific) program requires one course in math and one course in statistics. MRAG requires completion of a course that included field work using dichotomous keys and experience with computers. We consider experience at-sea an important qualifier.

NMFS and MRAG strictly observe Zero Tolerance laws; all observers may be asked to submit to urinalysis drug testing during or after any contract if a problem has been indicated. All applicants must have proof of a recent (within 12 months) physical examination due to the physical nature of the job and by requirement of the government agencies involved. Both the drug screen and the proof of physical examination are to be available to the vessel or vessel management company upon request.

Observer Training

Training for all current MRAG programs is provided without charge to the observer. NMFS provides 8 to 10 15-day training classes per year for the North Pacific Groundfish Program. ADF&G provides one or two 12-day trainings per year for the Alaska Shellfish. Trainings for the Alaska Marine Mammal Program occur as required and are usually held only once per year. MRAG pays $80/day and lodging with kitchen facilities and meal per diems are also provided for the duration of the training.

The North Pacific Fisheries Observer Training Center (OTC) provides the majority of the training for the NMFS Groundfish and ADF&G Shellfish Programs. The OTC is located at 707 A Street, Suite 207, Anchorage, Alaska, (907) 257-2770. Additional training classes for the Groundfish Program are offered, also without charge to the observer, by the NMFS Alaska Fisheries Science Center Domestic Observer Program at 7600 Sand Point Way, Building 4, Seattle, WA, (260) 256-4213.

Training curriculum includes safety while at-sea, sampling methods, species identification, requirements for data recording and reporting, the basics of fisheries management, pertinent fishing regulations, and life as an observer. Attendance, full participation in exercises, and a score of 80% on exams and homework are necessary to successfully complete the classroom portion of training. In addition, attendees must be able to don an immersion suit in under one minute, enter the water in an immersion suit, and climb into a floating life raft.

Wages and Benefits

Wages vary based on the program of employment. Please refer to that specific program page for a description. For pay rate determination, MRAG will transfer all sea days earned with any MRAG programs; and we will also credit an employee with all sea days earned in a program in which MRAG provides observers, regardless of the company those days were accumulated with. MRAG will not credit any sea days earned in programs that MRAG does not place observers; however, we will consider the experience when hiring. MRAG considers experience from the North Pacific Groundfish, ADF&G Shellfish, Hawaiian Longline and Bottomfish, Alaska Marine Mammals, ICCAT Transshipment, and CCAMLR at this time. All employees are paid on a biweekly basis and direct deposit into bank accounts is available.

Insurance Coverage

As a federal marine contractor, we are required to provide our employees with the best insurance coverage possible. As an observer, and while on assignment; you will be covered by the following insurance coverage:

State Act Workers Compensation

  • $1,000,000 United States Longshoreman and Harbor Workers
  • $1,000,000 Maritime Employers Liability
  • $2,000,000 General Liability

How to Apply

We will be very pleased to consider your application for employment with our company. Please download and complete our Employment Application. Please include a copy of your college transcript and resume. Please e-mail (or snail mail or fax) all items to Bryan Belay, Observer Operations Manager, at; mail to 1810 Shadetree Circle, Anchorage, AK, 99502; fax to (907) 677-6022. Please indicate your program preference in the e-mail. If you qualify and pass the initial screening we will schedule a phone interview.

If you have any questions regarding Observer Programs or employment with MRAG Observer Programs, please don’t hesitate to call our Observer Operations Manager, Bryan Belay at (907) 677-8772 or e-mail at We look forward to hearing from you soon.

MRAG part of team recently awarded the USAID Water and Development IDIQ

By | Current Projects, Featured Projects, Project

USAID has selected ECODIT as one of six firms recently awarded the Water and Development IDIQ (WADI), a framework contract with a combined ceiling of $1 billion over five years. MRAG Americas joined the ECODIT team to provide capability for activities regarding fishery science and management. WADI serves as the central contracting mechanism in support of the Agency’s Water and Development Strategy, providing USAID offices and missions with access to a wide range of services to support sustainable water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) for improved health, and to advance water resource management for enhanced food security.

WADI encompasses several cross-cutting services that can be applied to a combination of technical interventions related to water and sanitation under the following broad categories: water resources management; WASH; agriculture and food security; coastal management; environment; economic growth and energy; democracy and governance; innovation, research and monitoring and evaluation (M&E); knowledge management (KM), cooperation and coordination; and engineering services and commodity / equipment procurement and installation. Task Orders (TOs) predominantly in the M&E and KM service areas are reserved for small business IDIQ holders like ECODIT, while any TOs less than $3 million will be first competed among the small businesses. USAID may also directly place TOs with a small business to provide the services set aside for small businesses, or if other fair opportunity exceptions apply.

Alaska Groundfish Fishery Re-assessment – Announcement of Site Visit

By | Featured Projects

Site Visit Scheduled – Re-certification and 4th annual surveillance: The assessment team will meet in Seattle from the 27th to the 30th of May. The purpose of these meetings is for a fishery assessment and stakeholder consultation to receive information from fishery representatives, government management agencies, non-governmental organizations, and other interested stakeholders. Access the full announcement: MRAG Notification – Alaska Groundfish Site Visit Announcement

MRAG Americas to Conduct Ongoing Third Party Review of ISSF ProActive Vessel Register

By | Current Projects, Featured Projects

The ISSF ProActive Vessel Register (PVR) is an innovative and effective way for vessel owners to highlight meaningful sustainability efforts. The database verifies the positive steps vessels take in order to improve responsible practices in tuna fishing.

MRAG Americas Inc. will serve as independent auditor of the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation’s (ISSF) ProActive Vessel Register (PVR), a newly launched database that is designed to help identify vessels adopting best-in-class, responsible tuna fishing practices.

The PVR will identify which of more than 25 ISSF Commitments each vessel has adopted, including implementing strategies to increase supply chain transparency, providing complete catch data to management bodies and continuing education in best practices that reduce fishing’s impact on the greater marine environment. MRAG will monitor vessels on the PVR for compliance by performing on-site reviews and audits, as well as conducting regular reviews of public documents and databases. This validation process also includes real-time data submitted via iPads and other mobile applications. Auditors will receive notification when vessels keep a specific commitment, such as when a skipper completes training or submits data to the scientific bodies of a Regional Fisheries Management Organization (RFMO).

Measuring the Effects of Catch Shares

By | Current Projects, Featured Projects

Client: Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation





Project Overview: The Measuring the Effects of Catch Shares project provides objective, scientifically sound information to answer key questions about effects of two U.S. catch share programs on fishermen, fish stocks, fishing businesses, and fishing communities. The five-year project uses a collaborative approach involving the private sector, university scientists, and government agencies. The project team gathers and rigorously analyzes the best available data on economic, social, ecological, and administrative conditions and trends, comparing years before and during the catch share programs.

Beginning in spring 2013 and continuing regularly thereafter, we will report data for a range of indicators that will be useful to anyone with an interest in these catch share programs. The Measuring the Effects of Catch Shares project does not advocate for or against catch shares. Instead, it provides reliable, neutral information on trends and effects that people can use to answer their own questions or inform their own decisions about catch shares.

Project Team: MRAG Americas is working with a group of experts from academic institutions and private organizations. This team was selected through an open call for letters of interest based on their knowledge, experience, and novel approaches to analyzing the effects of catch share programs using an indicator-based approach.

Catch Shares in New England: Key Questions and Lessons Learned from Existing Programs

By | Featured Projects

Client: Meridian Institute

The report, Catch Shares in New England: Key Questions and Lessons Learned from Existing Programs, was a collaborative effort produced by MRAG Americas and Meridian Institute. Meridian Institute is a non-profit organization devoted to bringing collaborative decision making tools to society’s most challenging problems. The report includes an analysis of key issues and questions related to catch shares in New England and case studies of existing catch shares programs in the United States and internationally from which lessons for New England can be drawn. It is intended to contribute to the body of information decision makers and stakeholders will consider when deciding whether catch shares are appropriate for particular New England fisheries, and if so, what design elements and lessons learned might be drawn from existing programs.

To download the report, visit our publications page.

Science Tools to Implement EBM in Massachusetts

By | Featured Projects

Client: Massachusetts Ocean Partnership

MRAG Americas has worked in close contact with MA Ocean Partnership staff and contractors in the development of a report in which we provide a framework for implementing ecosystem based management (EBM) and suggest a range of science information tools and their appropriate application to the decision making process. This report provided context and guidance during the development of Massachusetts’s Ocean Management Plan Science Framework. Science tools to implement EBM can be broadly classified as modeling tools, decision analysis tools, and indicators. Additionally, we recommend particular tools for use at various stages of the EBM Implementation process, customizing our recommendations to the amount and type of data that we know are available to the State of MA. Our recommendations are further broken down into short-term and long-term in order to give them priority.

For more information on the Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan visit the MA Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

To download the report, visit our publications page.

Setting Annual Catch Limits for US Fisheries

By | Featured Projects

Client: Lenfest Ocean Program

In the summer of 2007, MRAG Americas coordinated working groups aimed at identifying best practices in fisheries management, developing a standardized process for setting annual catch limits (ACLs) that can apply to all US federally managed fisheries as mandated by the Magnuson-Stevens Reauthorization Act. The Expert Working Group developed a straightforward process for establishing catch limits and accountability measures, which included setting a sufficiently precautionary measure to ensure that overfishing does not occur. The report from the first working group, “Setting annual catch limits for US fisheries,” determined that scientists need to assess each population’s vulnerability to overfishing in order to set sustainable and effective catch limits.

Following the report’s recommendations, methods were developed for conducting vulnerability assessments, which included calculations of productivity and susceptibility scores for fish stocks and over 150 federally managed species scores were produced. In January 2009, MRAG Americas convened a second working group of domestic and international fisheries experts and managers to refine the methodology and incorporate recommendations from the National Marine Fisheries Service. The results of these efforts are being considered by Regional Fishery Management Councils Science and Statistical Committees as they develop Allowable Biological Catch (ABC) control rules for setting ACLs.

The reports from this work are availble on our publications page.