Environmental Defense Fund: China Fisheries Fellow

Apply here. (Applications due Friday, January 12, 2018)

Non-U.S. citizens are eligible to apply for this position.

Website: www.edf.org

Location: Boston, MA

Fellowship Position

Position title: China Fisheries Fellow

Department: Oceans Program

Reports to: Lead Senior Scientist

Address of fellowship placement: 18 Tremont St, Ste 850 Boston, MA 02108

Department Description

The EDF Oceans Program is pursuing an ambitious strategy to build sustainable fisheries at the global scale within our lifetimes. We have identified 14 critical fisheries governments, including both nations and multi-national compacts, through which we are building fishery reform programs. Our approach is to address fishery systems comprehensively, with careful consideration of the policy and governance architecture, underlying science, capacity of stakeholders, supply chains and markets, and incentives and accountability built into the management framework. Through this strategy, we can bring nearly 70% of worldwide fishery catch under sustainable management, achieving a global tipping point that will promote healthy ecosystems, vibrant and resilient coastal communities, and prosperous livelihoods for fishing families.

Position Description

Of the 14 focal geographies in the EDF Oceans Program global strategy, the most important is arguably the People’s Republic of China. China is the most important fishing nation in the world – by far – in terms of the volume of fish caught, consumed, imported, processed, and exported. Furthermore, because China’s seafood imports and exports are so substantial, and its fleets operate in high seas and national waters across the globe, it exerts considerable economic and political influence on many other nations in need of fishery reform. Recent policy initiatives in China focused on domestic fishery management and international economic relationships provide a rare opportunity to catalyze large-scale fishery reforms. Consequently, EDF is rapidly increasing our programmatic focus on China.

China faces significant challenges in following through on its recent commitments to building sustainable fisheries at home and abroad. The national fishing fleet is large and diverse, yet is not well characterized. Since the most appropriate management models are heavily dependent upon the number, types, and distribution of vessels and fishers, this knowledge gap is an impediment to designing new solutions. The nation possesses world-leading technical capacity, yet that capacity is not fully channeled into management due to structural barriers in the governance system and limited experience among many practitioners in working effectively at the science-policy interface. Furthermore, despite China’s technical prowess, a new scientific foundation is needed to respond to accumulated effects of coastal engineering and rising effects of climate change. In all of these challenges, the fishing industry itself is not able to be a fully effective partner because fishers are poorly organized and disconnected from many scientific and management endeavors.

In order to fully capitalize on the unique moment before us, we are recruiting a China Fisheries Fellow to support a variety of scientific, policy and management, capacity-building, and strategic planning needs. This is an outstanding opportunity to become involved in a major body of work at its outset, build relationships with experts within and beyond EDF, develop experience across a range of disciplines, and advance global fisheries sustainability. The Fellow will play an important role in addressing all of these challenges, and others. The Fellow will be a full-time member of the Oceans Program, and as such will take advantage of the program’s global reach and experience to provide insights, approaches, and models to stakeholders and decision-makers in China. The Oceans Program prioritizes training and capacity building as core components of our strategy to bring fishery reforms to scale, so the Fellow will not only conduct needed research, analysis, and design work, but also help organize and deliver workshops, fishery exchanges, and other educational activities. We expect that this could include several trips to China during the fellowship for these activities, as well as additional travel to meet with China experts across the U.S.

The successful candidate will have a solid grounding in one or more of the disciplines relevant to this work, and just as importantly will have a willingness and demonstrated ability to learn new fields. Direct experience in fisheries would be helpful, but is not essential. Rather, a genuine commitment to environmental sustainability and to finding solutions that benefit both humanity and nature simultaneously is needed. The Fellow should be a constructive team player, who works with dedication, respect, and humor, but is also able to work independently. 

Examples of specific responsibilities, projects, tasks, and/or duties of the Fellow include:

  • Collaborate on ecosystem assessments for fisheries in China, including climate vulnerability of key stocks, impacts of coastal engineering and aquaculture on habitats and resilience, and other topics.
  • Investigate new approaches for goal-setting and management of high diversity multispecies fisheries with limited capacity for stock assessment, catch monitoring, and other critical functions.
  • Develop a fleet characterization at municipal, provincial, and national scales to help identify both challenges and opportunities for management reform, and to inform efforts to build stronger fishing organizations.
  • Contribute to an analysis of the fisheries governance system in China and creation of strategies to address identified deficiencies in communication, coordination, structure, capacity, and other areas.
  • Conduct a network analysis of the linkages between fisheries science, management, and businesses in China and other focal geographies of EDF Oceans to determine the optimal pathways for capitalizing on China’s potential to stimulate global fisheries reform.
  • Support planning and delivery of fishery exchanges, workshops, and other training and capacity-building efforts in support of fishery reforms in China.
  • Prepare white papers on emerging issues, deliver briefings to staff, partners, and the public, and provide other support as needed to advance EDF’s fishery reform goals in China and globally.


The scope of this fellowship is broadly multidisciplinary, and therefore the relevant expertise are diverse. We do not expect the Fellow to have a substantial background in all relevant fields. Rather, we are looking for candidates whose studies and other experience have focused in one or two relevant fields, with supplemental training and experience in others. Most importantly, the fellowship requires willingness and demonstrated ability to take on new challenges, and develop new skills and knowledge. Specifically, we are seeking the following qualifications:

  • Undergraduate major in biology, ecology/environmental science, geography, economics, sociology, anthropology, history, political science, or public policy with additional coursework in other areas.
  • Commitment to environmental sustainability, especially ocean conservation and fishery management.
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills.
  • Ability to work effectively both independently and as part of dynamic multidisciplinary teams.
  • Sensitivity and adaptability to working within new and different cultural contexts. 

Additionally, EDF has a large and established team of bilingual staff based in China, which enables non-Chinese speakers to be effective contributors to our work there. Therefore, Mandarin language skills are not necessary for success in this position, but are certainly beneficial.

Professional Development

The EDF Oceans Program has assembled the most comprehensive curriculum on fisheries science and management available in the worlds outside of an academic institution. This curriculum, with support from Oceans Program experts, will enable the Fellow to quickly become proficient in the knowledge and skills need for success in the position. Other professional development opportunities, including training in needed skills and attendance at professional conferences, are also available.

Additionally, Fellows are treated as full-time EDF staff, and therefore benefit from a variety of opportunities to meet staff and learn about work across the organization through periodic seminars, webinars, and brown bag lunch series. This includes internal educational programs designed specifically for interns and fellows, supported by peer-to-peer education, mentoring, and networking programs. Perhaps most importantly, Fellows are expected to attend the annual EDF All-Staff Retreat, which provides deep immersion into the organization’s philosophy and work, and unparalleled exposure to internal experts and world-renowned guest speakers.