River Herring As Indicators of Socio-Ecological Recovery in a North Temperate River-to-Marine Complex

Wednesday, September 11, 2013: 11:20 AM
Hoffman (The Marriott Little Rock)
Karen Wilson , Environmental Science, University of Southern Maine, Portland, ME
Theodore Willis , Environmental Science, University of Southern Maine, Gorham, ME
John Lichter , Biology, Bowdoin College, Brunswick, ME
Beverly Johnson , Geology, Bates College, Lewiston, ME
Lynne Lewis , Economics, Bates College, Lewiston, ME
Guillermo Herrera , Economics, Bowdoin College, Brunswick, ME
Eileen Johnson , Environmental Studies, Bowdoin College, Brunswick, ME
Philip Camill , Environmental Studies, Bowdoin College, Brunswick, ME
Edward Ames , Penobscot East Resource Center, Stonington, ME
…a Plenty of Fish comeing Even to their own Doors …would the advantage be Very considerable Especially to those on the Sea Shore who Depend on the Cod fishery For it is well known that the small Fish Running in Shore for Fresh water Streams Draw the Cod after them… Petition to open fish passage on the Presumpscot River, Maine, 1781. Connections between freshwater production of river herring and nearshore cod fisheries were all but forgotten in the 1900s, when the Kennebec and Androscoggin rivers, Maine, followed similar industrial trajectories, with the rivers used for little more than industrial sewers. From the 1970s onward, the social, economic and ecological state of these rivers diverged, with residents along the Kennebec embracing its potential as an ecological and recreational amenity, while many along the Androscoggin continued to see the system as degraded and undesirable. In the last 20 years, dam removals and stocking in the Kennebec River watershed have increased river herring returns to 2-3 million fish (4x increase) presenting the real possibility of providing forage to the nearshore marine system, while numbers in the Androscoggin have remained flat. We have used these real and perceived differences to better understand the social, economic, ecological, and institutional drivers of resilience of river systems – either in the positive sense that allows recovery of these systems to an ecologically functional and economically beneficial state, or in the negative sense that preconceptions and assumptions lead to feedbacks which prevent recovery. Our group has used a wide range of ecological and fisheries investigations to characterize the ecological state of these rivers, inventory formal and informal groups associated with the rivers and conducted stated preference stakeholder surveys to help explain the ability or failure to achieve restoration. To integrate these multi-disciplinary approaches we have modeled potential restoration scenarios using river herring as the link between habitats and economies.