More than ponds amid skyscrapers: Urban fisheries as multiscalar human-natural systems

Andrew K. Carlson, Wiebren J. Boonstra, Sofie Joosse, Daniel I. Rubenstein, Simon Asher Levin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Although social-ecological fisheries research is growing, comparatively little attention is paid to fisheries in urban environments. We aim to address this imbalance, because as cities expand worldwide, we expect urban fisheries to become more widespread and important in providing food/nutrition security, recreation, community well-being, and other benefits to fisheries stakeholders and urban dwellers across spatiotemporal scales. This paper contains a first analysis of the economic and sociocultural provisions, trade-offs, and dilemmas associated with urban fisheries to yield insights for sustainable management and planning of urban blue space. To address these objectives, we use the metacoupling framework, a method for assessing human-nature interactions within and across adjacent and distant fisheries systems. We use examples from multiple countries and data from the United States to illustrate how urban fisheries encompass flows of people, money, and information across multiple spatiotemporal scales and provide nutritional, recreational, social, and cultural benefits to fisheries stakeholders. Throughout the world, urban fisheries are influenced by wide-ranging human needs (e.g. food provisioning, recreation, aquatic resource education) that generate social-ecological effects within and beyond cities. Our analysis yields insights for developing holistic, metacoupling-informed management approaches that address the diverse social-ecological objectives and trade-offs involved in sustainable development of urban fisheries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-58
Number of pages10
JournalAquatic Ecosystem Health and Management
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


  • fisheries management
  • metacoupling
  • telecoupling
  • urban ecology


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