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The Cost of Aquatic Invasive Species to Great Lakes States

The purpose of this report is to analyze the economic impact of existing Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) on businesses and households in Great Lakes states. We explore the economic impact of AIS from two perspectives. First, we examine the existing evidence of AIS-related costs to households and businesses. Second, we identify the set of industries most directly affected by AIS in the region and quantify their size. 

Overall, we find that AIS disrupt economic activity on a large scale in each of the Great Lakes states. AIS impose real costs on industries, consumers, and governments. Costs to individual companies and households include direct expenditures on combating an invasive species or repairing the damage it has done, and include indirect costs such as reduced productivity and higher prices in industries particularly affected by AIS. Governments and private actors such as nonprofits also devote significant resources to addressing AIS.The industries most acutely affected by AIS include sport and commercial fishing, water treatment, power generation, industrial facilities using surface water, and tourism. Together, these industries employ over 125,000 workers in the Great Lakes region.

While comprehensive cost estimates (including all industries, species, and waterways of the Great Lakes region) are not available, there are many individual estimates focusing on part of the problem. These cost estimates range from millions of dollars in cost and lost output for individual large industrial and power facilities to hundreds of dollars annually spent by individual households to control AIS on their property. It is likely that the overall aggregate level of cost to the Great Lakes region is significantly over $100 million annually.

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