Aquaculture Program Officer Jobs

The supply of fish and other aquatic species for human consumption is a critical and necessary part of the world food supply. As such, protecting that supply as a constant and renewable source is very important. The aquaculture program officer plays a key role in either setting legislation to provide that protection or procuring funding for organizations to maintain and uphold it.

On the legislative front, the program officer works locally and internationally to set and manage governmental policy that impacts aquaculture. From international organizations like the World Wildlife Fund to small, regional governments, personnel are needed to ensure policies to manage the supply and health of both natural and human developed fisheries make sense and are pertinent to current situations. Titles such as aquaculture legislative program officer fall into this category. These program officers often find themselves raising awareness for aquaculture-related situations. Achieving proper fish farming or fish harvesting standards has become a popular activity as consumers demand more fish, more organic seafood and wild harvests begin to dwindle beyond sustainability. A program officer often must work to lobby for support of legislation developed by scientists, biologists and policy makers to secure significant aquaculture management that will protect natural fisheries, fish farming operations and natural environments as sustainable suppliers to aquaculture markets. This role is often required to develop new legislation that fills gaps in existing laws as well.

On the fund procurement side, the program officer is responsible for developing grant proposals to obtain funding for various aquaculture programs necessary for that organization to meet its goals. An individual in this role must be able to identify and obtain new sources of funding through various means of communications.
Writing reports and communicating with the media through press releases and other formats is critical to this role.

The necessary educational background for these positions varies widely. Bachelor’s degrees are the base requirement, but they can be from any discipline. Continued advancement or being hired into more complicated roles usually requires a master’s degree in an aquaculture-related field, such as natural resources or fisheries. Degrees in communications, public relations, environmental law and political science are also looked upon favorably as long as the applicant displays the ability to pick up specific aquaculture knowledge rapidly.

When filling these roles, hiring entities often look for individuals with experience in legislative policy making and knowledge of local laws and customs. In addition to these requirements, an ideal candidate would also have experience in the supply side of aquaculture, such as in managing a fish farm or working as a fishmeal supplier. Much of the jobs in this category involve international work, so either the ability to speak different languages from English or the ability to learn languages quickly is sought out by those hiring as well.

Salaries for these positions vary greatly, but are often higher than most other aquaculture roles. Pay scales are often related to funding the individual is able to procure. A typical range begins at US$70,000 and extends beyond US$125,000 for individuals displaying successful abilities.

Working conditions for these roles are typically confined to offices, but travel to various locations, both domestic and international, is generally quite common. The program officer must be at ease facilitating large groups to come to consensus on various topics, often facing significant time constraints. S/he must be proficient in project management and marketing and must display excellent communication skills at all times. The ability to properly communicate desired results and achievements at all times is of the utmost importance for either obtaining legislation or securing funding for the person’s employer or organization.

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