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.
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.
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 email@example.com; 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you soon.