Senior Research Officer (Tuna Ecosystem Taxonomy)

New Caledonia, Nouvelle-Calédonie

  • Noumea-based position (New Caledonia)
  • Expatriate package
  • Join the principal development organisation in the Pacific region



The Pacific Community (SPC) is the principal scientific and technical organisation in the Pacific region, supporting development since 1947. We are an international development organisation owned and governed by our 26 country and territory members. In pursuit of sustainable development to benefit Pacific people, our organisation works across more than 20 sectors. We are known for our knowledge and innovation in such areas as fisheries science, public health surveillance, geoscience, and conservation of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture.
The Fisheries, Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystems (FAME) Division is located at SPC’s headquarters in Noumea, New Caledonia, and comprises the Oceanic Fisheries Programme (OFP) and Coastal Fisheries Programme (CFP). The Oceanic Fisheries Programme provides scientific support for the management of fisheries for tuna and associated species, with a strong focus on stock assessment and modelling, fisheries monitoring, data management and ecosystems management.
The role This appointment will lead lab-based taxonomic and trophic analysis research feeding into ecosystem modelling. The position is part of the new EU-funded “Pacific EU Marine Partnership” (PEUMP) Programme that commences in September 2018.


Reporting to the Principal Fisheries Scientist (Fisheries and Ecosystem Monitoring and Analyses), the role will be responsible for the following major functions:

  • Taxonomy and biological sample collection and analysis
    • Identify marine specimens of fish, mollusc, crustaceans and gelatinous plankton using morphological keys,
    • Collect specimens and conduct taxonomic research at-sea on research voyages,
    • Apply molecular techniques for species identification or characterisation.
  • Supervision of lab organisation, maintenance and taxonomic reference collection
    • Ensure lab and equipment are clean and in good condition and supervise lab equipment purchase,
    • Ensure prey reference collection is well maintained and increase the number of specimens in the collection.
  • Supervision
    • Oversee the day-today work of the Research Assistant, including training and quality control of work,
    • Train temporary lab assistants, trainees and volunteers.
  • Data quality and database
    • Enter data in the database including data checking, suggest improvement to the database if necessary,
    • Screen, check and correct entered data to ensure high quality.
  • Communication, reporting and outreach
    • Produce reports as required and articles for newsletters and websites,
    • Develop and contribute to the development of identification guide books.

    For a more detailed account of the key responsibilities, please refer to the online job description.


    Key selection criteria


  • Qualifications
    • Relevant 2-4 year-technical or university graduate degree, in fisheries science, taxonomy, biology, ecology, zoology or a related discipline or equivalent experience.
  • Technical expertise
    • At least five years post-graduate experience in marine animal morphological taxonomy including all the following groups: fish, crustaceans, molluscs and gelatinous organisms,
    • Experience in photography for taxonomic purposes and working at-sea on research vessels,
    • Experience in molecular analysis and in various associated laboratory techniques,
    • Publication in taxonomy.
  • Language skills
    • Good communication skills in French and/or English both written and oral.
  • Interpersonal skills and cultural awareness
    • Excellent interpersonal skills that contribute to building productive relationships and partnerships across SPC and with stakeholders,
    • A team player, with the ability to work effectively as a member of interdisciplinary teams and in a multicultural setting,
    • Cultural sensitivity and a demonstrated understanding of developing country environments,
    • Knowledge of Pacific Island countries and territories and direct experience of tuna fisheries in the Pacific region is an advantage.


    Salary, terms and conditions


    Required start date – from January 2019

    Contract Duration – 3 years


    Remuneration – The Senior Research Officer is a Band 9 position in SPC’s 2018 salary scale, with a starting salary range of 3,073–3,745 SDR (special drawing rights) per month, which currently converts to approximately XPF 453,455 – 552,616 (USD 4,241–5,168 ; EUR 3,800–4,631). An offer of appointment for an initial contract will be made in the lower half of this range, with due consideration being given to experience and qualifications. Progression within the salary scale will be based on annual performance reviews. SPC salaries are not presently subject to income tax in New Caledonia.

    Benefits for international staff employees based in New Caledonia – SPC provides subsidised housing in Noumea. Establishment and relocation grant, removal expenses, airfares, home leave, medical and life insurance, and education allowance are available for eligible employees and their recognised dependents. Employees are entitled to 25 days of annual leave and access to SPC’s Provident Fund (contributing 8% of salary, to which SPC adds a matching contribution).


    Equal opportunity – SPC is an equal opportunity employer. Recruitment is based entirely on merit; in cases where two short-listed candidates are judged to be of equal rank by the selection committee, preference will be given to Pacific Island nationals.

    Child protection – SPC is committed to child protection, irrespective of whether any specific area of work involves direct contact with children. SPC’s Child Protection Policy is written in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

    Police clearance – Successful candidates will be required to provide a police clearance certificate.


    Languages – SPC’s working languages are English and French.



    Application procedure


    Closing date: 28th of October 2018

    Job Reference: AL000108

    Please use SPC’s online recruitment system to lodge your application:

    Hard copies of applications will not be accepted.

    For your application to be considered, you must provide us with:

    • an updated resume with contact details for three professional referees
    • a cover letter detailing your skills, experience and interest in this position
    • responses to all screening questions

    Please ensure your documents are in Microsoft Word or Adobe PDF format.

    All international positions at SPC have specific screening questions. If you do not respond to all of the screening questions, your application will be considered incomplete and will not be reviewed at shortlisting stage.



  • Describe a research voyage you have participated in, your role at-sea and the challenges you encountered.
  • Describe why taxonomy is an important part of understanding climate change impacts on tuna ecosystems.
  • Describe the difference in processes for taking a high quality taxonomic picture of a fish which is black in colour in comparison to a picture for an invertebrate which is almost entirely translucent.
  • Describe the challenges in relying only on molecular techniques or only on morphological techniques for identifying organisms.

  • Research Officer (Tuna Ecosystem Taxonomy).docx

    Category: Fisheries, Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystems

    Reference ID: AL000108

    Date Posted: 27/09/2018