• Oceans, Watersheds and Humans: Facts, Myths and Realities

      Huntington, Henry; Colt, Steve (2002)
      Alaskans expect a great deal from their oceans and watersheds. Commercial fishing, sport fishing, subsistence hunting, recreation, offshore oil and gas development, transportation, and tourism are among the many ways the oceans, coast, watersheds, and their resources are used. These activities, however, can strain or break the capacity of the ecosystem to sustain them and they are not always compatible. Conflicts and controversies between different user groups are increasingly common. The role of societal forces in shaping the human-aquatic relationship is often under-appreciated, but can be critical. Protecting the health of Alaska’s oceans and watersheds requires managing the interactions between humans and those eco­systems, based on an understanding of the dynamics of both the natural and the social sys­tems involved. This paper provides an introductory look at the relationship between humans and the oceans and watersheds of Alaska. We begin by characterizing various aspects of the human interaction with oceans, followed by a critical look at five “myths” concerning oceans and watersheds.