River Kent Project Officer

The Freshwater Biological Association

Far Sawrey/Lakeside, Lake District, Cumbria
£23,500 - £26,000 pa

Paid • Full Time • Fixed Term Contract

www.fba.org.uk [email protected] 01539442468 Dr Louise Lavictoire

Reference: LIFE 1

Sectors: conservation & wildlife, ecology

Closing date: Sunday, 31st October 2021  

River Kent Project Officer for the LIFE R4ever Kent (LIFE20 NAT/UK/001013) project

Project Description

LIFE is an EU-funded programme aimed at the protection and restoration of Europe’s nature, and halting and reversing biodiversity loss. LIFE supports achieving the objectives of the EU’s biodiversity strategy for 2030 and is part of the EU Green Deal. LIFE funds the development and management of the Natura 2000 network which protects over 18 % of the EU’s land area and more than 8 % of its marine territory.

As part of the Natura 2000 network, the River Kent SAC (UK0030256) is designated for its Ranunculion habitat, freshwater pearl mussel, bullhead and white clawed crayfish. The River Kent SAC is impacted by issues including water quality, siltation, physical modification and invasive alien species, all of which have led to a decline in native species condition and extent. LIFE R4ever Kent (LIFE20 NAT/UK/001013) plans to Restore and Revive the River Kent SAC, so that the species and habitats can Recover, thus making the designated features more Resilient to environmental pressures. The freshwater pearl mussel is a keystone species which requires clean gravel habitats and low suspended solids/nutrient loading. Improved water and habitat quality (including Ranunculion habitat) will benefit other aquatic/terrestrial species including the endangered white clawed crayfish and provide optimum conditions for the freshwater pearl mussel's salmonid hosts. The project will trial new techniques, provide targeted advice and training and promote better replication/communication.

Natural England is the lead partner for the project and is working in partnership with South Cumbria Rivers Trust, Freshwater Biological Association and Environment Agency.

Role Description

The Freshwater Biological Association is seeking to appoint an enthusiastic self-starter who will manage the pearl mussel breeding and release activities as part of the EU LIFE-funded project “R4ever Kent”. The River Kent Project Officer will work with members of the pearl mussel team at the FBA, as well as with colleagues in partner organisations to identify priority sites for catchment restoration, priority mussel release sites and to research and implement mussel breeding and release objectives and activities which will improve the overall status of the River Kent.

The successful candidate will manage the rearing and release objectives and activities for the freshwater pearl mussel within the River Kent. Working in partnership with colleagues in South Cumbria Rivers Trust and Natural England, you will identify and prioritise release locations and be responsible for a scientific study to identify suitable donor populations from across England, for breeding and release into the Kent. We are looking for an enthusiastic, organised, detail-oriented individual, ideally with previous experience of project and budget management to join the expanding science team at the FBA. You must be confident working outside in all weathers and be able to plan your workload depending upon the needs of the project and be mindful of how the complex lifecycle of the freshwater pearl mussel will impact upon your workload. You must be a strong team player who is willing to share your knowledge and experience to improve the outcomes for the entire team and the mussel breeding/release work at the FBA.

Closing date: 31 October 2021
Interviews: To be held w/c 8 November 2021

To apply: Please send CV and cover letter to [email protected] no later than 11:59 31 October 2021


Job title: River Kent Project Officer

Band: 4

Salary:£23,500 to £26,000 per annum. Future potential up to £28,500

Hours: Five-year fixed-term appointment until 03/01/2027 (6-month probationary period). 37.4 hours per week including some weekend duties.

Five-year fixed-term appointment (6-month probationary period)

Location: Far Sawrey/Lakeside, Lake District, Cumbria

Job purpose:

To manage the rearing and release of the freshwater pearl mussel within the River Kent catchment and to help prioritise areas of the Kent catchment for river restoration activities.

Key external contacts: UK regulatory and conservation agencies, NGOs, UK and European scientific community

Key internal contacts: Head of Science, Pearl Mussel Officer, Pearl Mussel Assistant, FBA Fellows

Key responsibility areas

  • To investigate and identify potential suitable donor populations for breeding and release of the freshwater pearl mussel into the Kent catchment
  • To manage and maintain the pearl mussel rearing systems for the river Kent population, including all life cycle stages e.g. adult mussel and fish, juvenile mussel, rearing systems maintenance
  • Monitor and evaluate the ecological requirements of the mussels and the environmental conditions required for successful breeding and release
  • Manage and analyse the data collected in order to identify and carry out trials to determine how to improve survival rates, project outcomes and understanding of pearl mussels
  • Tailor rearing conditions to specific developmental stages of juvenile mussels and assess how and when releases may occur
  • Communicate with external partners and colleagues working on pearl mussels to better understand mussel biology/ecology and to improve captive rearing and release practices
  • Present results and carry out analysis for internal and external reports and for scientific publications
  • Attend relevant conferences, give talks and produce scientific papers
  • Work with team members to support juvenile rearing and release activities
  • Prepare and submit accurate project claims to lead partner in a timely manner

Person Specification

Specialist knowledge and experience

  • Degree in biological related subject, higher degree would be an advantage
  • Project management and budget-holder experience
  • Experience working with a wide range of stakeholders
  • Data analysis and writing scientific and non-scientific reports

Problem solving and analysis

  • Analyses data and breaks information down into their component parts
  • Collects information from a range of sources and evaluates this in a logical manner
  • Offers fresh and creative solutions to potential obstacles
  • Applies own judgement and criteria to adapt previous recommendations or experience in the light of the current circumstances
  • Identifies the most suitable analytical tools or data gathering approaches according to the specific context. Analyses data and uses this to produce oral and written communication which is fluent, clear, concise and tailored to intended recipient(s). Speaks clearly, fluently and in a compelling manner to both individuals and groups


  • Effectively prioritises, organises, plans and schedules activities and resources
  • Establishes procedures for monitoring progress against plans and objectives
  • Identifies correct working methods, reviewing methods as appropriate and identifying how best to use resources to achieve results
  • Sets achievable and realistic objectives when managing workload
  • Gets results and willingly tackles demanding tasks. Sets and exceeds challenging personal targets


  • Analyses data and uses this to produce high-quality oral and written communication which is fluent, clear, concise and tailored to intended recipient(s). Speaks clearly, fluently and in a compelling manner to both individuals and groups
  • Tailors communications to appeal to, include and engage different audiences

Personal attributes

  • Excellent attention to detail
  • Shows enthusiasm to broaden own experience, knowledge, skills and self-insight
  • Seeks out feedback from colleagues and managers, taking the learning and development points on board and modifying own practice
  • Makes a positive contribution to the team, supporting colleagues in their day-to-day work and helps establishes constructive and collaborative relationships with internal and external colleagues
  • Builds a sense of team spirit, encouraging shared ownership of objectives and deliverables

Special requirements

  • Weekend and holiday working on a rota with other team members is required as pearl mussel project activities are carried out 365 days a year
  • Some heavy lifting involved e.g. lifting aquarium tanks, lifting tank covers
  • Role requires working outdoors in all weathers
  • Knowledge and experience of lone working and H&S protocols including weekend working
  • Full, current driving licence. Own car would be an advantage.