Academic journal article Agricultural and Resource Economics Review

The Economic Impacts of Aquatic Invasive Species: A Review of the Literature

Academic journal article Agricultural and Resource Economics Review

The Economic Impacts of Aquatic Invasive Species: A Review of the Literature

Article excerpt

Invasive species are a growing threat in the United States, causing losses in biodiversity, changes in ecosystems, and impacts on economic enterprises such as agriculture, fisheries, and international trade. The costs of preventing and controlling invasive species are not well understood or documented, but estimates indicate that the costs are quite high. The costs of aquatic invasive species are even less well understood than those for terrestrial species. A systematic approach is needed to develop a consistent method to estimate the national costs of aquatic invasives. This review of the economic literature on aquatic invasive species is the first stage in the development of that estimate. We reviewed over sixty sources and include both empirical papers that present cost estimates as well as theoretical papers on preventing and mitigating the impacts of aquatic invasive species. Species-specific estimates are included for both animals and plants.

Key Words: aquatic invasive species, costs, literature review

Invasive species are a growing threat in the United States, causing losses in biodiversity, changes in ecosystems, and impacts on economic enterprises such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries, power production, and international trade. An invasive species is a species that is "non-native to the ecosystem under consideration and ... whose introduction causes or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health" (Executive Order 13112, Appendix 1, 1999).1 Not all non-native or non-indigenous species (NIS) become invasive. Some fail to thrive in their new environment and die off naturally. Others survive, but without destroying or replacing native species. Most introduced species do not meet the standards defined in Executive Order 13112 as "invasive" [U.S. National Invasive Species Council (NISC) 2000]. However, those that do meet the definition have the ability to cause great harm to the ecosystem.

The means and routes by which species are introduced into new environments are called "pathways" or "vectors." Some species that become invasive are intentionally imported and escape from captivity or are carelessly released into the environment. Other invasives are unintentionally imported, arriving through livestock and produce, or by transport equipment such as packing material or a ship's ballast water and hull. Fish and shellfish pathogens and parasites have been introduced into the United States unintentionally and intentionally in infected stock destined for aquaculture and aquarium trade. Crates and containers can harbor snails, slugs, mollusks, beetles, and other organisms. Nearly 51.8 percent of maritime shipments contain solid wood packing materials, and infection of these materials is substantial [Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) 2000]. Military cargo transport may also harbor unintended species. Stimulated by the expansion of the global transport of goods and people, the numbers and costs of invasive species are rising at an alarming rate (NISC 2001). The cost of preventing and controlling invasive species is not well understood or documented, but estimates indicate that they are quite high, in the range of millions to billions of dollars per year [Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) 1993, Pimentel et al. 2000].

While several studies document prevention, management, and control costs for specific invasive species, there are no comprehensive national or regional estimates of their economic impact, particularly for aquatic invasive species (AIS) as a group. The federal government is interested in the scale of the impacts of AIS relative to other environmental concerns in order to best address the issue. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held a workshop in July 2005 to address the lack of a comprehensive national estimate or regional estimates of the economic impacts of aquatic invasive species. This workshop focused on ideas for conceptual frameworks and analytical tools for estimating national and regional aquatic invasive species economic impacts. …

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