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  • 1 month ago

jobs description

We are looking for a

Junior Researcher

Invertebrate herbivores for reef restoration and fisheries development (on Saba)

Job description

Since the 1970s, Caribbean reefs have transitioned from coral-dominated to algal-dominated ecosystems. The prevalence of algae reduces coral recruitment, rendering the reefs unable to recover from additional disturbances and jeopardizing crucial ecosystem services, including coastal protection, fisheries, and tourism. One of the main factors to the proliferation of algae is the scarcity of grazers, which is a result of overfishing and disease outbreaks. While fishing supports livelihoods, enhances local food security, and is an integral part of the Caribbean communities' culture, it remains a significant threat to coral reefs.

Consequently, the Nature and Environmental Policy Plan (NEPP) 2020-2030, outlining conservation and restoration priorities in the Caribbean Netherlands, underscores the necessity of an integrated approach to tackle the... complex challenges of coral reef restoration and fisheries development. The Saba government, and nature management organizations of Bonaire, St. Eustatius, and Saba are implementing the NEPP.

This implementation is supported by research of Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences, Wageningen University and WWF, who aim to identify novel species of native invertebrate grazers with the dual purpose of reef restoration and fisheries diversification. The Caribbean king crab (Maguimithrax spinosissimus), the West Indian sea egg (Tripneustes ventricosus), and the West Indian top shell (Cittarium pica) have been identified as potential candidates. Despite their preference to graze on macroalgae, their current densities are inadequate. Population enhancement of these species holds promise for reducing algae, promoting biodiversity, and simultaneously supporting small-scale fisheries. However, there is limited knowledge regarding the ecological effects and socio-economic potential of these grazers.

The ReefGrazers project aims to assess the current densities of these herbivores around the BES islands, analyze their impacts on the reef, and evaluate their retention post-restocking. Socio-economic research will quantify current small-scale fishing practices, while market analysis will help assess the potential for the development of these novel resources as sustainable fisheries.


The junior researcher will set-up and coordinate two interlinked studies:
• can the Caribbean king crab (Maguimithrax spinosissimus), the West Indian sea egg (Tripneustes ventricosus), and the West Indian top shell (Cittarium pica) be used to increase grazing pressure on the reef?
• Can the restocked grazers of the above-mentioned species sustain a fishery?

In addition, it will be explored if these purposes can be combined. The research will be conducted on Saba, St. Eustatius and Bonaire, the Dutch Caribbean BES islands, and the candidate must be willing to live on Saba for the duration of the position. Frequent trips to the other island will be necessary. In addition to working on the project described above you will assist with day-to-day operations in the Saba Research Center.

Tasks include, but are not limited to:
• Coordination of practical work for this and other projects on Saba.
• Set-up experiments in the lab and in the field.
• Contribute to other VHL research on Saba.
• Supervise intern and thesis students.
• Publish in peer-reviewed journals.

We are looking for an excellent and highly motivated candidate with an MSc degree in marine resource management, marine governance, marine ecology, or a related field. Saba provides a unique working environment that requires adaptability to weather, differing cultural norms, and limited on site resources. You should be able to plan well, work independently, have strong communication skills and the attitude to participate successfully in an international and multidisciplinary team.

• Marine resource management, marine ecology (MSc level)
• Experience with social-economical research.
• Experience working with different cultures.
• Certified Scuba diver.
• Good analysis and writing skills.
• Willingness to live in a small island community
• Good English level, both written and spoken.

Any of the following could be considered an advantage and should be mentioned in the motivation letter:
• At least 70 logged dives and a rescue certification.
• Experience with doing research under water.
• Experience with publishing in peer-reviewed journals.
• Ability to speak Spanish or Papiamentu.

We offer:

A challenging job opportunity in the field of socio-ecological fisheries research. The salary (depending on education and experience) is a minimum €3.018,24 and a maximum of €4.582,91 gross per month for a fulltime position (in accordance with scale 8 or 9 cao-hbo, scale depends on knowledge and experience). Preferred starting date: 1 September 2024. This is a fulltime position for 32-40 hours per week. This position is on a project funding basis and is primarily for two years.

More information

For more information about this vacancy, please contact Dr. Alwin Hylkema (project leader ReefGrazers) by email: alwin.hylkema@hvhl.nl.

Application process:

Please send your application letter and resume before June 2nd via the application button. After the procedure is closed, you will receive a response as soon as possible. Interviews are scheduled on June 7th between 15:00 and 17:00 pm.

We ask new employees to apply for a Certificate of Good Conduct (VOG) upon employment. The costs for this will be reimbursed.

Acquisition in response to this advertisement is not appreciated
Basseterre St Kitts & Nevis


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