Jocelyn is Fisheries Project Manager for The nature Conservancy in Maine.
Jocelyn Runnebaum Jocelyn is Fisheries Project Manager for The nature Conservancy in Maine. © Phoebe Parker

Our People

Jocelyn Runnebaum

Fisheries Project Manager, Maine

Maine

  • Areas of Expertise

    Fisheries management, participatory research, habitat modeling, coupled natural and human systems

Biography

Jocelyn’s work focuses on helping to advance TNC’s marine conservation initiatives in the Gulf of Maine and nationally. Jocelyn works collaboratively with university scientists, resource managers, and industry partners to improve the overall ecological health of the Gulf of Maine. This work includes partnerships to implement on-the-water projects to understand the habitat value of seaweed aquaculture; a regional survey to understand fishermen’s perceptions of the impacts of climate change on their businesses and fishing communities; and working to influence ocean and coastal policies at the state, regional, and national level.

“Marine resources are a critical aspect of Maine’s culture and economy. The conservation and sustainable use of marine resources is critical is sustaining these aspects in addition to a healthy ecosystem.”

Before joining TNC, Jocelyn worked for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game as a Fisheries Biologist providing technical support and advice on federal fisheries management. Jocelyn has a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, TX and a Ph.D. in Marine Biology from the University of Maine in Orono. Before earning her Ph.D., Jocelyn commercial fished for salmon in Alaska, trained sled dogs for an Iditarod musher, and was a Peace Corps volunteer in Zambia working with fish farmers.

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Studying the Benefits of Kelp

On a windy Friday afternoon in early May, I joined Dr. Carrie Byron and Emill­­y Schutt from the University of New England (UNE) for an afternoon kelp-sampling trip. T­he three of us donned dry suits and masks and ventured out by boat to set GoPro cameras around the UNE kelp farm, with the goal of capturing video footage of how fish and invertebrates interact with the kelp.

Next, we took water samples from the farm sites to collect environmental DNA from these same areas. The research team wants to know if there are more species that associate with the kelp farm than outside of the kelp farm. Some of this work is also being done on commercially operational kelp farms in addition to UNE’s farming sites.

This trip was part of an exciting new partnership between The Nature Conservancy, The University of New England, and the University of Auckland. Together, these organizations have launched a collaborative effort to understand the effects of kelp production in temperate climates, and to learn from sites located on opposite sides of the world. Dr. Carrie Byron and Emilly Schutt are leading the field research in Maine.

Kelp is a winter crop, typically harvested in late spring. It does not require feed or freshwater inputs and has low carbon emissions. For humans, kelp is high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals like Vitamin C, Vitamin K, calcium, zinc, iodine, and magnesium. And for nature, kelp farming is of particular interest to us because of its potential to provide a variety of ecological services, including nitrogen removal, carbon capture, and habitat provision for various marine species (Gentry et al. 2019).

In Maine, a burgeoning kelp farming industry is now the U.S.’s largest producer. This could have big implications for the global food market, where food production is a major source of habitat degradation, carbon emissions, and freshwater usage. Some food systems, like kelp, may be able to minimize that environmental impact while also providing benefits to the ecosystem. That’s why the Nature Conservancy is working with partners across the globe to identify and demonstrate the potential for regenerative food systems on land and in the sea.

Given the need to help restore the Gulf of Maine marine ecosystem, we are excited about the new partnership, and looking forward to working with researchers, industry, and local communities to investigate the potential benefits and impacts of kelp farming on marine life! 

Li, G., J. Cao, X. Zou, X. Chen, and J. Runnebaum.  (2016). Modeling habitat suitability index for Chilean jack mackerel (Trachurus murphyi) in the South East Pacific. Fisheries Research, 178, 47-60. DOI: 10.1016/j.fishres.2015.11.012

Ebel, S., Beitl, C., Runnebaum, J., Alden, R., & Johnson, T. (2018). The power of participation: Challenges and opportunity in facilitating trust in cooperative fisheries research in the Maine lobster fishery. Marine Policy, 90, 47-54. DOI: 10.1016/j.marpol.2018.01.007    

Runnebaum, J., L. Guan, J. Cao, L. O’Brien, and Y. Chen. (2018). Habitat suitability modeling based on a spatio-temporal model: an example for Cusk in the Gulf of Maine. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 75 (11), 1784-1797. DOI: 10.1139/cjfas-2017-0316

Runnebaum, J., E. Maxwell, J. Stoll, K. Pianka, N. Oppenheim. (2019). Communication, Relationships, and Relatability Influence Stakeholder Perceptions of Credible Science. Fisheries, 44 (4), 164-171. DOI: 10.1002/fsh.10214

Runnebaum, J., K. Tanaka, J. Cao, L. Guan, and Y. Chen (2020). A prediction of bycatch hotspots based on suitable habitat derived from fishery-independent data. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 641, 159-175. DOI: 10.3354/meps13302

Hodgdon, C.T., K.R. Tanaka, J. Runnebaum, J. Cao, Y. Chen (2020). A framework to incorporate environmental effects into stock assessments informed by fishery-independent surveys: a case study with American lobster (Homarus americanus). Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 77 (10), 1700-1710. DOI: 10.1139/cjfas-2020-0076

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