Sustainable Fisheries Ecologist

The Nature Conservancy (TNC)
Madison, WI, United States
Position Type: 
Organization Type: 
NGO/Civil Society
Experience Level: 
5-7 Years
Degree Required: 
Bachelor's (Or Equivalent)


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Madison, Wisconsin, USA


Founded in 1951, the Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable.  One of our core values is our commitment to diversity. Therefore, we strive for a globally diverse and culturally competent workforce. Working in 74 countries, including all 50 United States, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit or follow @nature_press on Twitter.

The Nature Conservancy offers competitive compensation, 401k or savings-plan matching for eligible employees, excellent benefits, flexible work policies and a collaborative work environment. We also provide professional development opportunities and promote from within. As a result, you will find a culture that supports and inspires conservation achievement and personal development, both within the workplace and beyond.


The Sustainable Fisheries Ecologist will play a key role in the development, management and advancement of the Great Lakes conservation program to help achieve a more healthy and resilient Great Lakes ecosystem, with emphasis on fisheries in Lakes Michigan and Superior. We seek a fisheries ecologist with a passion for freshwater conservation and the people who rely on the Great Lakes. Salary range for this position begins at $52,000 and depends on experience. The location of this position is flexible, but proximity to an existing TNC office in Sturgeon Bay, Minocqua, Milwaukee, Madison or Duluth, MN is desirable. Frequent travel likely to Ashland, Green Bay and other locations on the Great Lakes.


The Ecologist provides technical leadership and support to sustainable fisheries programs of The Nature Conservancy in Wisconsin and Great Lakes. The Ecologist will both lead and serve on teams to assess the status of remnant populations of forage fish, assemble information necessary to formulate strategies to address key threats to healthy fisheries, and engage partners in collaborative research and management efforts. This position will explore how conservation strategies intersect with and contribute to the needs of people and communities in the Great Lakes region. This position will involve considerable interaction with partners in state, federal and tribal agencies, universities, representatives of the commercial and recreational fishing sectors, and coastal communities. The Ecologist will play a key role in developing, implementing and securing public and private support for the work of The Nature Conservancy’s Sustainable Fisheries Program.



  • Manage multi-disciplinary projects to assess status of remnant populations of forage fish in Lakes Michigan and Superior, to identify threats to the survival of these populations and formulate strategies to address these threats.
  • Understand the goals of a diverse set of partners and build collaborative and productive relationships.
  • Engage, and collaborate with, the Lake Committees of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, and with individual public agencies, tribes/First Nations and other fishery stakeholders.
  • Assemble science and collaborate with agency partners referenced above to inform fishery management practices and policies.
  • Financial responsibility may include developing, managing and working within a budget to complete projects and helping to meet fundraising targets.
  • Negotiating and contracting with service providers, researchers and vendors.
  • Ensure compliance of all activities with internal policies and external requirements.        
  • Under minimal supervision, make independent decisions based on analysis, experience and context.
  • May work in variable weather conditions and occasionally in physically demanding circumstances in Great Lakes pelagic and coastal locations.


  • BA/BS degree and 5 years’ experience in fisheries management, large lake research, conservation science, or related field or equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • Field experience in large lake or marine environments.
  • Experience negotiating agreements.  
  • Experience working in, or leading, multi-disciplinary teams.
  • Experience communicating with the public and/or media both in writing and verbally.
  • Experience using applications such as Microsoft Word, Excel, and Web Browsers.


  • Knowledge of current trends and practices in conservation, fisheries management and natural resource management and preservation. 
  • Knowledge of the Laurentian Great Lakes or other large lake ecosystems.
  • Knowledge of Great Lakes historic and current management of the recreational and commercial fisheries.
  • Ability to explain management challenges and needs related to Great Lakes fisheries and to advocate for support to address these challenges to both technical and non-technical audiences.
  • Experience working with and gaining the trust and cooperation of other fisheries managers and/or stakeholders.
  • Completing tasks independently within established timelines.
  • Excellent communication and public presentation skills.


This position requires a valid driver's license and compliance with the Conservancy's Auto Safety Program. Employees may not drive Conservancy-owned/leased vehicles, rental cars, or personal vehicles on behalf of the Conservancy if considered "high risk drivers." Please see further details in the Auto Safety Program document available at

Employment in this position will be contingent upon completion of a Vehicle Use Agreement, which may include a review of the prospective employee's motor vehicle record.


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