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North Pacific Groundfish

1Description of Work:

Observers live and work aboard U.S.-flagged commercial fishing vessels operating in the Bering Sea, North Pacific, and Gulf of Alaska.  Observers sample catches for species composition, and for the incidence of salmon, halibut, and crab; they make estimates of total catch; and they collect age structures and gather biological data from target species. The National Marine Fisheries Service uses this information for the purposes of both in-season management and to establish fishing quotas for future seasons.

The vessels we work with make trips of anywhere from one month (this for larger vessels, generally over 150 feet in length, that both catch and process fish) to 14 days (this for smaller vessels, 60 to 135 feet in length, that deliver their catches to shore-based processing plants).


Following a three week training which is held in Seattle Washington, Observers fly to Dutch Harbor, Alaska to begin their first deployment.  Relocation is not required for this position.

Contract Information:

Paid training courses are generally held in late December, January, March, April, May, June, and August of each year.  North Pacific Groundfish Observers make an initial commitment to take multiple deployments.  AOI will be accepting applications again in October 2023 for a December 2023 start date. 

Compensation and Benefits:

During training observers receive $1450 total, meal reimbursement, and lodging is provided.  Upon completion of training, observers are deployed to the field and begin making a salary of $4,398.90 per month.  While deployed, room, board, and travel to and from the job site are taken care of.  Health insurance is offered.

We encourage observers who are successful during their first contract to return and make additional deployments for AOI. Observers receive incremental salary increases depending on the amount of time they have spent in the field. Currently, our top salary for experienced North Pacific observers is $6,821.40 per month.

The National Marine Fisheries Service provides observers with survival suits, life-vests, and hard hats, along with all sampling equipment.