OAI News & Information
OAI Project Snapshot: Estuary Pair Trawl Project 2021

The Northwest Fisheries Science Center operates a study in the Columbia River estuary to collect data on migrating juvenile Pacific salmon implanted with passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags. This research employs a large surface pair trawl to guide fish through an array of PIT antennas mounted in the open cod end. Data on the species, tagging, and release time and location of detected fish is used to evaluate migration performance to the estuary, where the trawl operates. Since 1998, trawl detection data has been used to complete hydrosystem survival estimates to Bonneville Dam. These estimates provide managers with an annual metric to evaluate impacts and improvements to ESA listed stocks.

After cancelling the 2020 season due to COVID-19 restrictions, the trawl group is happy to be back on the water for the 2021 season. The trawl will operate 7 days per week beginning in mid-April, and will continue to sample through June when most spring-migrating juvenile salmon have passed through the estuary.
(Photos and content provided by OAI employee Erika Holcombe)

Estuary Pair Trawl Boat Estuary Pair Trawl Boat
Estuary Pair Trawl Boat Estuary Pair Trawl Boat
Estaury Pair Trawl Matrix on Back of Boat Bouys hanging on Dock at Estaury Pair Trawl Project
Ari Pit tag
Wide angle view of the Estuary Pair Trawl Project
OAI Consulting Awarded NMITS BPA by NOAA

OAI Consulting, a leading technical and professional services provider, has been selected as one of the awardees for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Mission Information Technology Services (NMITS) Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA) contract # 1305M421ANAAA0068. OAI leads a team for this award with partners S4, Inc. and MTi Systems, bringing nearly thirty years of partnerships with NOAA that reach across the agency’s mission and programmatic geographic footprint.

OAI Consulting is a registered Doing Business As (DBA) of Ocean Associates, Inc. The key differentiator for the Team is supporting NOAA’s enterprise and core technology systems while also providing Information Technology (IT) innovation strategies to support NOAA’s scientific programs and Science, Service and Stewardship mission.

NMITS will meet the NOAA Office of the Chief Information Officer need for widespread IT services to increase the return on investments and achieve significant cost efficiencies for information resource management. The NMITS vehicle will enable the economies of scale, consistent standards, and comprehensive IT services necessary to develop a secure, reliable and technically robust operating environment to support NOAA’s mission and goals and provide the highest data quality in support of researchers, management officials, decision makers and the public. The NMITS period of performance includes a five-year base period and five-year option period with a $2.1 billion ceiling.

About OAI: OAI was established in 2003 by Dr. John Everett upon his retirement from NOAA as Chief of the Fisheries Research Division. OAI’s CEO is Ms. Kristin Vehrs, a globally-recognized and honored Senior Executive. Headquartered in Arlington VA, OAI is a Women Owned Small Business (WOSB) with employees in 15 states, specializing in professional and technical services in Information Technology, Project Management, Data Stewardship, Environmental Science and Policy, and Administrative Support. OAI has grown to be one of NOAA’s most prominent and proven contractors, with 100 employees and 30 subcontractors supporting NOAA offices, laboratories, research ships, and field stations. OAI is known for exceptional customer and employee care, top-notch services and quality performance standards.

Official Press Release

OAI's Matt Morris Promoted to Director of Fisheries Programs

We are pleased to announce that Mr. Matt Morris will be taking on the position of OAI’s Director of Fisheries Programs. Matt has been with OAI since 2013 when he joined us as a contract Fishery Biologist supporting Estuary Pair Trawl Research Operations for the Fisheries Services' Fish Ecology Division in Hammond, OR, where he also served as the OAI on-site lead and contract task coordinator. In 2018, Matt joined OAI as a Program Manager and has been involved in a wide variety of OAI operations, proposal drafting and business development work.

Congratulations Matt!


OAI Employee Dr. Dori Dick named as a NOAA Team Member of the Month for December 2020

Ocean Associates, Inc. would like to congratulate employee Dr. Dori Dick on being named NOAA’s Team Member of the Month for December 2020 for her work supporting the National Marine Fisheries Service. Benjamin Friedman, Deputy Under Secretary for Operations at NOAA, announced the award on January 4, 2020.

Dr. Dick is the Coordinator and Senior Scientist for the NMFS Office of Protected Resources (OPR) and Office of Science and Technology (OST) Directors’ Climate Initiative, where she enhances NOAA Fisheries’ national and regional climate readiness for protected species management. Some of Dr. Dick’s efforts include development of climate science toolkits and coordinating climate scenario planning exercises for protected species. Most notably, Dr. Dick led an interagency team (partnering with NMFS OPR & OST, NOS/Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, National Wildlife Federation, National Park Service, and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission) to develop and implement a marine-focused climate-smart scenario planning course, entitled Planning for a Changing Climate. Taught by instructors from each of the contributing agencies to regional partners, the course lays the foundation for increasing national and regional climate readiness while improving understanding of climate change impacts on protected species and their habitats. The work Dr. Dick provides NOAA Fisheries has proven invaluable for building resources to adapt the management of protected species in a changing environment.

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Dick on her achievement!

NOAA NMFS Awards OAI Employees & Sub-contractor with Team Member of the Year Awards

The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Team Member of the Year award is presented each year to team members of the NOAA NMFS workforce who are not actual NOAA Federal employees. These awards recognize the outstanding contributions to NMFS programs by team members working alongside NMFS staff, and their demonstrated, exceptional and sustained effort toward accomplishment of the NMFS mission. We are proud to present the Ocean Associates, Inc. employees and sub-contractors who have been awarded as a 2019 NOAA NMFS Team Member of the Year - Congratulations to all! .

  • Robert Hardy (OPR) has been recognized for demonstrating outstanding service to NOAA through his role in developing a modernized information management system for the Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network.
  • Karl Veggerby (NWFSC) has been recognized for being a science maverick in the making: unparalleled contributions to eDNA, otolith, stable isotope, underwater video and field research projects that strengthened NWFSC science.
  • Stuart Munsch (NWFSC) has been recognized for making important contributions to NOAA missions by leading or contributing to 10 applied science publications (4 peer-reviewed papers, a tech memo, and 4 manuscripts in review).
  • Justin Peters (WCRO) has been recognized for being instrumental in successfully transitioning the WCR's website (~1000 pages) to the new NOAA Fisheries website, making an enormous contribution to West Coast Communications.
  • Andres Ticlavilca (WCRO) has been recognized for expert hydrology science support in creating computer-based machine learning models to enhance NMFS' ability to perform its own simulations of water management scenarios for the benefit of ESA-listed species.






OAI Employee Garrett Seibert named as the SWFSC Staff Member of the 4th Quarter

Garrett was acknowledged recently by his fellow staff at the Southwaest Fisheries Sceince Center in La Jolla, CA for his contribution during the COVID-19 shutdown:

"Garrett has acted as one of the primary workers at the SWFSC La Jolla lab during the Covid-19 shutdown caring for animals and infrastructure in the experimental aquaria facility. Garrett has helped keep things running as smooth as possible given the limitations currently imposed, working alone taking care of projects that usually require 2-3 staff to accomplish. Without hard working dedicated staff like Garrett our facilities and the experimental animals we take care of could quickly fall apart during periods of limited access."

"During this time of quarantine when we are directed to telework for everyone's safety, Garrett continues to work in the Aquarium ensuring that the fish and abalone are well cared for and that vital life support systems and equipment is maintained. Without Garrett's dedication, the aquarium would not be running as well as it is during this lockdown!"

Great job Garrett!

NOAA Fisheries: Genetics reveal pacific subspecies of fin whale New findings highlight diversity of marine mammals

Scientists from NOAA Fisheries, Ocean Associates, Inc. , Cascadia Research Collective, Tethys Research Institute, and Universidad Autónoma de Baja California Sur, identify Pacific subspecies of Fin Whale.

https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/feature-story/genetics-reveal-pacific-subspecies-fin-whale


OAI at the 2019 International Sea Turtle Symposium

Two OAI team members attended the 2019 International Sea Turtle Symposium in Charleston, SC from February 2-8, 2019. The Symposium was attended by over 800 participants, and special attention was dedicated to discussions on the importance of making connections between scientists and decision makers, so that international and domestic laws and regulations are informed by the best science available to make sea turtle conservation truly effective for the recovery of their populations.

Verónica Cáceres has been an OAI employee for nearly 10 years. As a former Fulbright Scholar, she provides the Secretariat for Inter-American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles (IAC) under contract from the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. Funding is from the USA and several Latin American countries. She participated in the workshop focused on conservation efforts of one of the critically endangered sea turtle populations - the East Pacific Leatherback. At this workshop, participants from over 10 countries in the Western Hemisphere presented valuable information on 2018-19 nesting trends in the index beaches of the species (Mexico, Nicaragua, Costa Rica) as well as preliminary results from bycatch surveys with fishermen that was helpful to identify important areas to focus conservation efforts.

The Symposium also featured talks on socioeconomics and working with coastal communities to better achieve conservation objectives that are meaningful and sustainable in the long term. It was packed with valuable workshops, research discussions and networking activities.

OAI consultant Captain Michele Finn, NOAA (ret), also participated in the Symposium. Captain Finn supported NOAA Fisheries protected species programs throughout her 25 years as a NOAA Corps officer and continues that work with a volunteer sea turtle conservation program – Share The Beach – in Alabama. In addition to catching up with long time colleagues from around the world, Captain Finn focused her attention on learning more about sea turtle nesting biology and navigation/migration/homing behavior, as well as threat mitigation measures and the application of unmanned technology in conservation strategies.

NOAA Fisheries: 2018 Aerial Surveys of Arctic Marine Mammals - updates and photos from OAI employees.

OAI employees Marjorie Foster, Katie Jackson, Laura Ganley, Kate Pagan, Vicki Beaver, Lisa Barry, Corey Accardo, Nicole Brandt, and Suzie Hanlan have been conducting aerial surveys for NOAA Fisheries in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas. View some of the spectacular photos and read their observations HERE


"OAI at the 16th International American Cetacean Society Conference

On Sunday November 3, 2018 OAI employee Lauren Saez gave an oral presentation alongside NMFS' Justin Greenman on an effort to document U.S. west coast large whale entanglements in 2017 at the 16th International American Cetacean Society Conference in Newport Beach, CA. The team of 6 who worked on this project also included OAI's Lauren De Maio.

Abstract: Marine mammal entanglement off the U.S. West Coast has been identified as an issue of concern by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), specifically for large whales because of the potential impacts, both to the individual and at the stock/population level. Most large whale species found along the U.S. West Coast have been observed either as entangled or with evidence of having been entangled during their lifetime. Between 2000 and 2013, an average of 10 large whale entanglements were reported per year along the U.S. west coast, with humpback (Megapteranovaeangliae) and gray (Eschrichtiusrobustus) whales being the species most frequently identified. Starting in 2014 there was an increase noted in entanglement reports with more than 30 and then in 2015, the total number of entangled whales reported was 61 with 49 of those reports confirmed via photo or reliable source and gear was removed from 11whales. In 2016 the total number of reports rose to 71 with 48 being confirmed and gear was removed from 10 whales (includes full, partial and self-release). In 2017 there was a decrease in both reported and confirmed entanglements with 41 reported and 31 confirmed but unfortunately this number is still elevated. Over the past four years the team identified the following gear types from the entangled whales: Dungeness crab pot, sablefish pot, spiny lobster pot, spot prawn pot, a weather buoy, and a variety of gill nets. This information aids in understanding the nature of the entanglement and in finding ways to try to prevent future entanglements. NMFS and the entanglement response team are working to expand the coverage across the entire West Coast to improve on the timeliness of responses to all received reports and collaborating with boaters, whale watching groups and fishermen to raise awareness and find methods to reduce future entanglements. READ MORE


OAI employee Lauren Saez

October Employee Photo Contest Winner

Congratulations to Lela Work, the winner of the October 2018 Employee Photo Contest with her photo titled Boise River. The photo subject is: Fall Floating-electrofishing down the Boise River.

The runner-up in a close vote goes to Beth Jaime with her photo titled Turtle Car, taken while she was working on Lisianski Island, one of Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. The photo is of a recently weaned Hawaiian monk seal exploring a green sea turtle. The seal spent the entire day messing with the turtle and eventually fell asleep next to it.

View October's Entries


October 2018 Employee Photo Contest Winner


October 2018 Employee Photo Contest Runner Up

NOAA Fisheries Recognizes OAI Employee Alan Rahi

OAI's Alan Rahi was recently recognized by the NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region (WCR) Regional Administrator for his work on the southern resident killer whale communications effort (as recently seen in the national news).

Alan works with scientific and management NMFS staff to develop multimedia content for web and social media on NOAA Fisheries WCR science, management, and conservation work. Alan also participated in setting up and promoting the meetings, debriefing and suggesting changes between the meetings, and performing analysis on the comments and FB/Twitter data from the live stream.

With Alan and the rest of the teams participation the social media presence for the WCR has vaulted into the forefront of the discussions around the critically endangered Southern Residents and the overall ecology of the Puget Sound. The WCR FaceBook page alone has seen growth of 50% since August 2018.

OAI Employees Win NMFS Team Member of the Year Awards

OAI is pleased to announce the following NMFS Team Member of the Year award winners for 2017 - Congratulations to you all!

Margaret Decie (OLE)
Galeeb Kachra (WCRO)
Tina Le Nguyen (SWFSC)
John Yerxa (WCRO)


John Everett, President of OAI, Margaret Decie, NMFS Team Member of the Year Award Winner, Susan Linhares, OAI Northeast Region Project Manager (l to r)
OAI in the News: Study finds more harm to fish from stormwater | WSUV experts: Salmon senses, abilities dulled


A few years ago, scientists discovered that stormwater, a potentially toxic mixture of lawn fertilizers, brake-pad dust and other pollutants, can kill salmon.

New research shows that even when exposed salmon survive, they’re left with reduced abilities to perceive their environment. CLICK HERE

OAI in the Field: Hawaiian Islands Cetacean and Ecosystem Assessment Survey 2017

The 2017 Hawaiian Islands Cetecean and ecosystem assessment survey (HICEAS) is a 187 day survey effort to study cetaceans, seabirds, turtles and their habitats within the U.S. waters within the Hawaiian Islands, taking place from July through December 2017. OAI staff members participated in this suvey aboard the NOAA ship Reuben Lasker. To learn more and view the stunning photos taken by OAI & NMFS survey team members CLICK HERE

OAI in the News: It Takes Two To Trawl For Science

WESTPORT — The Siliqua and Quinnat, two vessels from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, trawled 300 feet apart Wednesday just upriver from the Wauna Mill, the net between them slowly gathering juvenile, mostly hatchery, salmon headed down the main channel of the Columbia River toward the Pacific Ocean.

After 17 minutes of towing the net and collecting salmon, the whistles of “Col. Bogey’s March” from the movie “The Bridge on the River Kwai” started emanating from...READ MORE

It Take Two To Trawl For Science

OAI Provides Support for Steller Sea Lion Population Assessment

Ocean Associates, Inc. (OAI) was contracted by NOAA to provide field support by way of biological technicians, field research leaders, and a more senior Scientist III at remote field locations in Alaska, as well as at the Alaska Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Mammal Laboratory in Seattle, WA, as part of an Alaska Steller Sea Lion population assessment.

OAI personnel have been involved in all aspects of the research, such as assisting with field camps, counting the animals from aircraft and ashore, and analyzing photographs to determine the ages, sex, and distribution. The scientists use the information to develop computer models to estimate the reproductive capabilities and trends in population size. All the research is then assembled by...READ MORE

Stellar Sea Lions

Recognition of OAI AFS Members working on Climate Change

Climate change has been important to our understanding of fisheries since the first hook went in the water. More recently, it has become associated with change contributed by our society. Since we in “fisheries” have long studied environmental changes and their impacts on our flock, we tend to recognize that fisheries rise and fall with changes in the local and global environment, with many synchronous population changes in stocks around the world. Our understanding of these fast and vast changes gives us a distinct advantage in dealing with this complex issue. Change happens but not all change is equal. A change of 1 degree F (0.5 C) over 150 years is like noise in a system with El Niños, Pacific Decadal Oscillations, and North Atlantic Oscillations. The fisheries community has been much more reasoned in its response to climate change than many other sectors...READ MORE