Fishery Management and Natural Resource Internship (DHA)

Website Biscayne National Park

Start Date: May 15, 2023

End Date: August 4th, 2023

**To qualify for a DHA position, applicants must be between the ages of 18-30 and be enrolled in a 4-year institution of higher education in the semester FOLLOWING the internship (Fall 2023).

Compensation: $720/week paid biweekly. Travel costs to the site and back home are covered by the program.

A car is required 

Application Due: February 6th, 2023

The Latino Heritage Internship Program seeks to engage ethnically and racially diverse young professionals in natural resource careers.

Must be a U.S. citizen or legal resident.

All interns must be fully vaccinated for covid-19 prior to the start of their internship.

Please Apply HERE

Project Description:

The intern will work within the Division of Resource Management to participate in several activities related to the park’s Fishery Management Plan (FMP) and Natural Resource Management activities, as described below. 

RECREATIONAL FISHERIES:  In 2020, new fishing regulations were implemented under the FMP, creating new (more stringent) minimum size regulations for ten target species, as well as an aggregate bag limit for many species. With these new fishing regulations implemented in the park, it is critical that park managers monitor recreational fishing activity and compliance with the regulations. To this end, the intern will conduct interviews (aka creel surveys) of recreational fishers as they return to local marinas.  This work will be conducted three afternoons per week during high-use days (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday). The intern will engage fishers to ask them a few brief questions about their fishing experience followed by examination of their catch to identify and measure landings.  The purpose of these interviews is to collect biological data and, when relevant, provide education/outreach (e.g. provide them with the new regulations if their landings reveal non-compliance with regulations).  There is NO law enforcement work involved in these surveys.  Throughout the internship, the intern will be expected to add all collected data to the park’s existing Creel Survey Database.  The intern will analyze the data he/she collected to determine which species are most commonly landed, the percentage of legal landings (i.e., in compliance with the new regulations) for each of the ten target species, and the rate of fisher satisfaction. As skills and motivation allow, the intern can also look at longer-term trends using past years’ data available in the dataset.   All deliverables will be directly applied to the five-year review of the FMP to determine if the implemented regulations are achieving their intended goals to improve fishery resources.

COMMERCIAL FISHERIES: The FMP also led to regulation of commercial fisheries within the park through the creation of several restricted zones, including a trap-free zone by park headquarters and five Coral Reef Protection Areas (CRPAs) in which all lobstering is prohibited.  Park managers are in discussions to expand CRPAs, in terms of sizes of existing CRPAs and/or in number of CRPAs.  The intern will assist in the assessment of existing CRPAs to collect valuable data to guide future management actions. The intern will work with resource management staff to document the presence of illegal and derelict trap gear within the CRPAs, noting license ID when available.   Additionally, at the opening of the lobster season in early August, the intern will travel throughout the park to collect data on the precise locations of commercial lobster traps in the park, as indicated by the presence of commercial buoys and make special note of any buoys that occur within CRPAs.  The intern will record both the location and the license ID of each buoy.  Collected information will be maintained in an Excel spreadsheet.  The intern will be asked to produce graphs detailing the occurrence and frequency of derelict and illegal traps within the CRPAs as well as a map of the active commercial traps.  These deliverables will be invoked in future discussions with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission regarding increased regulation of fishing activity within the Park.

SEA TURTLE NEST MONITORING: Loggerhead sea turtles are considered “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act.  They nest on the beaches of Elliott Key, offshore in Biscayne National Park.  Their nests can be victims of predation from raccoons, crabs, and other animals.  The intern will work with other park staff to patrol Elliott Key’s beaches to locate new nests and cover them with a protective mesh screen that stops would-be predators from digging up the nest, as well as to identify failed nesting attempts. 

Intern Qualifications: 

Interns selected for the NPSCF Program should possess:

  • Demonstrated leadership skills and experience
  • Strategic thinking ability
  • The ability to self-start/work independently
  • Flexibility/resourcefulness
  • The ability to adapt new skills and ideas to the public sector

A degree in biology, ecology, zoology, environmental science or other related degree would best suit this internship.  Since the intern will be directly interacting with the public during recreational creel surveys, the individual should be friendly, professional, and enjoy talking with others.  Individuals who are particularly introverted will find this work challenging.  Additionally, since the surrounding community is heavily Hispanic and many people speak primarily or exclusively Spanish, strong bilingual (English and Spanish) skills are desired; this will ensure effective communication with most of the visitors encountered during creel surveys. Much of this work will involve working on boats and/or being in the water.  The ideal individual will be comfortable working on boats and swimming/snorkeling in the water.  Individuals who are prone to seasickness or who are unable to swim and snorkel should NOT apply for this position. Almost all work will be conducted outdoors during the summer in South Florida.  The candidate should be tolerant of heat, sun, humidity, and biting insects.

Physical/Natural Environment: 

Biscayne National Park is located in southern Miami-Dade County.  The park includes a narrow strip of mainland; 95% of the park is underwater.  The park includes mangrove shorelines, the soft-bottom Biscayne Bay, offshore islands vegetated by hardwood hammocks and mangroves, and the northernmost portion of the Florida reef tract.    The park is fairly remote, being ~8 miles from the nearest amenities.  These amenities include hospital, retail, grocery, movies etc. The weather during the internship period is very hot and very humid, with frequent afternoon thunderstorms.  Hurricane season starts June 1st, so there is the possibility of a hurricane during the internship. The surrounding area is very heavily Latino, with more than half of local residents identifying as Latino/a.

Work Environment: 

This internship will involve both field and office aspects, although the majority of time will be spent in the field.  Creel surveys will consist of visits to local public marinas.  The intern can expect to encounter slippery boat ramps and to conduct surveys in the hot summer sun with extreme humidity.  Mosquitoes and other biting insects may be problematic at certain times of day.  The intern will be standing for long periods of time.  Job hazards include prolonged sun/heat exposure, handling fish with sharp spines and slipping on wet boat decks and boat ramps.  Other field work will involve riding on boats in varying sea states, resulting in exposure to sun, rain, storms, sea spray.  In-water work will involve wading, swimming and snorkeling, which could expose the individual to stinging organisms such as jellyfish and hydroids.  Office work will entail sitting at a desk to enter data.  The park regularly hosts more than one intern; this past summer we had two in Natural Resource Management, one in Cultural Resource Management, and three in Interpretation!

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