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Socio-Economic Impact of the Presence of Asian carp in the Great Lakes Basin

Socio-Economic Impact of the Presence of Asian carp in the Great Lakes Basin

Socio-Economic Impact of the Presence of Asian carp in the Great Lakes Basin (PDF, 634 KB)

Prepared by
Salim Hayder, Ph.D.

Edited by
Debra Beauchamp

Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Policy and Economics
501 University Crescent, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3T 2N6

Table of Contents


With the exception of Lake Michigan, the Great Lakes straddle the Canada-United States borderFootnote 3 and are the world's largest freshwater system. The Great Lakes basin, including watersheds,Footnote 4 covers an area of 766,000 square kilometres (295,700 square miles), an area larger than New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island combined. The shoreline of the five Great Lakes and the connecting rivers stretches for 17,000 kilometers (10,200 miles), long enough to reach nearly halfway around the world.Footnote 5 More than 11 million people – including 98% of Ontario’s residents and over 60 aboriginal communities - live within the Great Lakes basin (Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources [OMNR], 2010).Footnote 6

The Great Lakes and their watersheds are facing significant threats from the increasing number of aquatic invasive speciesFootnote 7 (AIS) that are weakening/threatening the health of the lakes, and affecting both activities linked to the lakes and the utilities they generate for the economy.Footnote 8 Asian carp, AIS from the North American perspective, are well-known to be responsible for significant impacts on native species and associated human activities, through ecological damage, habitat alterations and direct competition for resources.Footnote 9

The threat of Asian carp to the Great Lakes has attracted the attention of Canada, the province of Ontario, national and state governments of the United States (US), First Nations, the general public, industry associations and environmental non-governmental organizations.Footnote 10 Stakeholders (e.g. citizens in both Canada and the US, industries relying on the Great Lakes fishery, and non-governmental organizations, such as the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, and EcoJustice Canada,) are looking forward to appropriate measures to prevent the presence of Asian carp in the Great Lakes.

The Government of Canada’s Budget 2010 renewed approximately $4 million in funding from 2005 through the Aquatic Invasive Species Program,to facilitate an AIS monitoring system and to meet assessment needs, such as research funding, biological risk assessment, regulatory policy development. Additionally, in 2012, the Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) allocated $17.5 million over five years to protect the Great Lakes from Asian carp under its Great Lakes Asian carp Program. The funding has been directed tofour key activities: prevention, early warning, rapid response, and management and control.

As part of the Government of Canada’s initiatives, a bi-national (Canada -US) ecological risk assessment to address the Asian carp threat to the Great Lakes, led by the Centre of Expertise for Aquatic Risk Assessment (CEARA), DFO, has been carried out.Footnote 11 A necessary follow-up to the biological risk assessment is an assessment of the socio-economic impact of the establishment of Asian carp in the Great Lakes Basin, in order to provide decision-makers with information regarding the economic value that may be at risk and to assist in developing options that may be considered for prevention. The outcomes of this study will support the AIS objectives under DFO’s “Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture” strategic outcomes.Footnote 12

Objectives of the Study

The goal of this study is to provide a detailed socio-economic analysis of the economic impact to Canada of the establishment of Asian carp in the Great Lakes. The specific objectives of the study are to: (i) provide estimates of the economic value generated by the Great Lakes for Canada; and (ii) examine the economic impact/cost of the presence of Asian carp in the Great Lakes for Canada. 

Organization of the Study

The rest of the study is organized as follows: Chapter 1 presents an overview of the Great Lakes; Chapter 2 reviews the literature relevant to assessing the economic impact of the establishment of Asian carp in the Great Lakes; Chapter 3 presents the methodology adopted in the study; Chapter 4 presents the baseline values of activities in and around the Great Lakes by sector; Chapter 5 presents the social and cultural values associated with the Great Lakes; Chapter 6 presents a scenario based on the biological risk assessment; Chapter 7 presents the socio-economic impact assessment; and Chapter 8 draws conclusions.

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