Location:Silver Spring, MD
Req #:4223
# of openings:1
Job Category:Information Technology, Science

Job Description:

The United States is one of the largest markets for seafood in the world. Despite possessing the world’s largest Exclusive Economic Zone, the U.S. imports 85 to 95 percent (by value) of the seafood consumed domestically. Even if all U.S. fisheries exports were consumed domestically, the U.S. would still remain approximately 1 million metric tons short of fulfilling current domestic demand for seafood. This reliance on imports contributes to a rising seafood trade deficit (currently more than $14 billion annually), moves potential seafood jobs overseas, and poses a risk to our nation’s food security. The National Aquaculture Act of 1980 states that it is “in the national interest, and it is the national policy, to encourage the development of aquaculture in the U.S.” The Department of Commerce (DOC) and NOAA published complementary aquaculture policies in 2011, which collectively call for supporting development of sustainable marine aquaculture while complementing NOAA’s other missions for natural resources management and environmental stewardship.

In his January 2017 Senate confirmation hearing, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross expressed a wish to reverse the nation’s seafood trade deficit and perhaps even become a net exporter. Since then, Secretary Ross has repeatedly highlighted the importance of this issue and has been working extensively with the NOAA Fisheries to solve this problem. Furthermore, the Department of Commerce’s 2018-2022 Strategic Plan prominently includes domestic aquaculture growth as a means to not only address the seafood trade deficit issue, but also job creation.

Strong focus on marine aquaculture development at Commerce and agency levels requires additional staff support to manage significant increases in demand for information and communications products.

Communications Support

Meeting the aquaculture goals outlined in the DOC Strategic Plan 2018-2022 as well as Secretary Ross’ vision for seafood competitiveness will require additional communications resources.

Integral to NOAA’s aquaculture mission is advancing public understanding of marine aquaculture practices; the associated environmental, social, and economic challenges and benefits; the health benefits of eating seafood; and the science, services, and policies NOAA has to offer in support of aquaculture. However, most of the public still has limited understanding of aquaculture and may encounter information that can be out of date, inaccurate, or incomplete. Public perception of aquaculture is a significant barrier to marine aquaculture development in the United States. Contractor support is required to help communicate NOAA’s expanding role in aquaculture and help decrease the public perception barrier to expanding aquaculture.

Key tasks include, but are not necessarily limited to the following:

  • Communications and Outreach:
  • Develop digital content for the Office of Aquaculture website with an emphasis on drafting original and timely content. Collaborate with the NOAA Fisheries Web Council to ensure that the Office of Aquaculture webpages meet NOAA Fisheries standards.
  • Write and edit, in collaboration with NOAA staff, communications materials including feature stories, Q&As, and photo essays. These stories will highlight aquaculture research from science centers, headquarters staff, and regional coordinators, and cover aquaculture innovations, milestones, and news updates. Stories may require travel to events, aquaculture sites, and labs to conduct interviews.
  • As needed, the Contractor will assist with other communications projects such as newsletters and print products, rollout plans, priority documents, and ongoing outreach efforts.
  • Assist NOAA staff in meeting Section 508 accessibility requirements for all web content.
  • Maintain web links to Best Management Practices for aquaculture, reports, and staff contacts and serve as liaison with other agencies as needed.
  • Provide logistical support for outreach events.
  • Create digital communications tools including infographics, fact sheets, and the creation of Story Maps using GIS mapping software (e.g. ESRI).
  • Update and add aquaculture species profiles on FishWatch and NOAA Fisheries species pages.


  • Deliverables will relate to the above tasks and will include, but not necessarily be limited to, the following:
  • Updated and expanded Office of Aquaculture draft and final website.
  • Draft and final content for events, announcements, and other outreach materials.
  • Draft and final web content.
  • Updated FishWatch species profiles.
  • New and updated outreach materials, including feature stories to highlight regional coordinators and science centers.

Required Skills:

    • 3-5 years’ experience writing for a news organization, an agency, a business, or a non-governmental organization.
    • Ability to interview experts in a journalistic style and translate technical and scientific jargon into plain language for a variety of target audiences.
    • Experience writing 508 accessible content for the web and social media.
    • Training and/or experience with a web content management system, such as Drupal, WordPress or other.
    • Excellent verbal and written communication skills.
    • Experience being part of a diverse communications team

To view the original job posting and to apply, please visit the ECS Career Center.