• Urban stream management: interdisciplinary assessment of the Ship Creek fishery

      Krupa, Meagan B. (2009-05)
      The Lower Ship Creek Fishery in the city of Anchorage, Alaska is one of the state's most popular sport fisheries. After years of channelization and development, this social-ecological system (SES) continues to experience the effects of urbanization and is struggling to achieve robustness. I applied a robustness framework to the management of management this fishery because of its semi-engineered nature. This framework uses interdisciplinary methods to study the interrelationships between the fishery's socio-economic and ecological components. Robustness is more appropriate than resilience as an analytical framework because of the relative insensitivity of the engineered components to ecological feedbacks. On Lower Ship Creek, the engineered hatchery fish continue to thrive despite declining stream conditions. The robustness of this fishery contributes to the resilience of the city by increasing local food and recreation options and supporting a diverse set of businesses. To study the robustness of this SES in the context of the resilience of Anchorage, I first combined historical photos and existing Ship Creek data with research conducted on other streams to create an environmental history of the creek. This history then was used to describe how eras of urban development have altered the creek's ecosystem processes and created new ecological constraints related to 1) loss of wetlands and riparian vegetation; 2) erosion, pollution, and channelization; 3) loss of fish species; and 4) flow alteration and habitat loss. Using Lovecraft's (2008) typology, I proposed four plausible management scenarios that highlight the trade-offs associated with management of this fishery: 1) Ship Creek Redesign, 2) Mitigation, Construction, and Maintenance, 3) KAPP Dam Removal, and 4) Business as Usual. The second of these scenarios is most consistent with the current ecological constraints, the characteristics preferred by most stakeholders, and current socio-economic trends. Since Scenario 2 will require a large monetary investment, I examined this SES's cost structure and compared it with previously published analyses of the economic benefits of the fishery. By quantifying the costs borne by each agency, I showed how externalities produce intra- and inter-agency tension. These data were used to construct a new cost-sharing framework that provides decision makers with an economic incentive to work more cooperatively in the future. I then explored the interrelationship of the SES's socioeconomic and ecological subsystems, using Anderies et al.'s (2004) framework. I applied Ostrom's design principles (1990) to sport fisheries to explore the reasons why agencies have not cooperated to produce a more robust fishery. This SES fails to meet three of the design principles: it lacks 1) an equal proportion of benefits and costs, 2) collective-choice arrangements, and 3) user and biophysical monitoring. I then suggest how to improve the design and increase the robustness of this SES. This study proposes that the maintenance of semi-engineered systems is important both for local users and for the resilience of states and countries. In the context of global trends toward increasing urbanization, this study provides an interdisciplinary approach to increasing the robustness of urban streams and building resilience within states and countries.