Head of Policy and Research - Oceana

Head of Policy and Research

Do you want to make a difference protecting and restoring the abundance of the oceans? Come join a dedicated team of professionals who are working to protect marine wildlife while also enhancing the capacity of the oceans to feed a growing world population. Ocean conservation is not only a plan to save ecosystems but also to save the livelihoods of fishers, their families, and their communities.

Founded in 2001, Oceana is the world’s largest ocean advocacy organization focused solely on restoring the resilience, diversity, and abundance of marine ecosystems to ensure that our oceans are a significant source of wild-caught fish that can help feed the world.

We achieve measurable change by conducting specific, science-based campaigns with fixed deadlines and articulated goals. Our campaigns extend to countries that, combined, govern nearly one-third of the world’s wild-caught fish, including Belize, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Peru, the Philippines, the United States, Canada and the 27 countries in the European Union.

Who is right for the job?

Oceana is looking for an experienced Head of Policy and Research to develop, implement and advise on all of our policy and research requirements in the UK. The position will be based in Oceana’s office in Paddington, London. Occasional travel will be required to meet team members and stakeholders in geographically diverse locations.

Reporting to the Campaigns Director, the Head of Policy and Research will work closely with other members of the Campaigns team ensure Oceana UK’s campaigns are scientifically robust and promoting sound policies. The role will help Oceana to carve out its niche and leadership in this complex campaigning landscape and drive forward bold policy positioning and hard-hitting research that inspire meaningful change.

Eligible candidates should have experience in both policy and research, as well as being strategic and proactive. They should be a self-starter, have leadership experience, and have a strong ability to work independently and as part of a small team.

Your contribution to the team includes:


  • Lead on all projects relating to improvements in UK fisheries policies – including interpretation, analysis and engagement on existing and potential policies.
  • Lead on all work relating to improvements in UK marine policies more broadly (e.g. MPAs; pollution; MSP; offshore energies) – including interpretation, analysis, and engagement on existing and potential policies.
  • Advise on the strategic approach that Oceana UK takes to policy work.
  • Respond to government policy consultations linked to our campaign areas (or coordinate our response with internal staff/consultants), and contribute to group responses (e.g. Wildlife & Countryside Link).
  • Engage effectively with government civil servants on relevant policy matters.
  • Engage collaboratively with policy counterparts within NGO partners where required.
  • Draft robust, evidence-based policy positions; advise Senior Leadership Team on new or existing policy positions; and provide reactive policy advice when required.


  • Lead, manage and coordinate all research projects for Oceana UK (including scientific, legislative and legal research) working closely with the campaigns team.
  • Coordinate closely with wider campaigns team to understand, plan for and agree research opportunities and needs.
  • Commission and manage external researchers where required.
  • Advise on the strategic approach that Oceana UK takes to research.
  • Engage effectively with research focused government agencies (e.g. JNCC, Cefas, Natural England. Marine Management Organisation).
  • Communicate and collaborative effectively with research counterparts within other NGOs as required.
  • Ensure that all research projects are managed and delivered on time and to budget.
  • Provide research input and advice to policy and campaigning discussions.
  • Ensure that Oceana UK’s research is ethical, robust and peer reviewed.
  • Present Oceana UK’s research at relevant forums as required.


  • Work closely and as part of the Leadership Team, communicating policy and research priorities and assisting organizational decision making.
  • Help to lead the London office providing direction, guidance and promoting a positive working culture with other members of the team.
  • Line management of one member of staff.
  • Represent Oceana UK at relevant external forums.
  • Provide policy and research input to comms outputs including press releases, blogs and social media posts.
  • Contribute to Oceana UK’s monitoring and evaluation activities including:
    • Feed into board reporting documents with policy goals and achievements.
    • Provide policy input into donor reports and bids.
  • Provide policy and research input to annual planning processes.
  • Manage relevant policy and research budget lines, including forecasting and annual budget setting.

What you’ll need to be successful:

Education and work experience:

  • At least 5 years of professional experience in policy and/or research, ideally in oceans or the environment.
  • Experience leading and developing a strategic approach to policy and research, and integrating this with campaigns goals.
  • Experience working closely and collaboratively with campaigns colleagues.
  • Experience lobbying and negotiating with civil servants in government on policy matters.
  • Experience commissioning, managing and analysing complex research projects and ensuring their application to policy work and/or campaign delivery.
  • Experience developing and writing strategic plans, contributing to planning and budgeting processes.
  • Postgraduate degree in fisheries, marine biology, oceanography, or a related field.
  • Line management experience.

Skills and knowledge:

  • Demonstrable experience of engaging policymakers, with an ability to confidently communicate policy with high level stakeholders and engage effectively in relevant debates and negotiations.
  • Familiarity with fisheries or marine and environmental regulations, legislation and policies in the UK, as well as with the key institutions and decision-making processes.
  • Proficiency at understanding and distilling complex scientific issues for policy, campaigning and communications purposes.
  • Highly skilled in evidential and research methodology best practice.
  • Strong writing skills, with experience writing policy positions and research briefs.
  • Excellent relationship building and stakeholder management skills.
  • Strong project management skills, with demonstrable experience managing multiple workstreams effectively.
  • Strong analytical skills with the ability to collect, organise, analyse, and disseminate significant amounts of information with attention to detail and accuracy.
  • Integrity and the ability to work with confidential information with discretion.
  • Attention to detail and a commitment to robust and credible research outputs.
  • A commitment to ethical research principles.
  • Prioritising skills with the ability to manage multiple tasks, projects, and timelines.
  • Ability to work collaboratively with staff and other organisations.

Oceana is committed to having a diverse workforce that is representative of the community it serves at all levels of the organisation. We therefore welcome applications from all backgrounds and all sections of the community. All offers of employment are conditional upon the successful completion of reference checks and a criminal background check.