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AbstractAlaskans 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.
DescriptionThe information provided in this report is largely the result of a two-day symposium on Alaska’s Oceans and Watersheds, held in Anchorage, Alaska on June 18 and 19, 2002. The symposium consisted of five invited talks and seven panel presentations covering issues such as the effect of climate on ocean carrying capacity; status and trends in Alaska’s marine fish, shellfish, birds, and mammals; persistent pollutants in Alaska’s environment; and how changes in technology and management can help ensure sustainable resource use.