Alien invasions and livelihoods: Economic benefits of invasive Australian Red Claw crayfish in Jamaica

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Invasive species have caused widespread economic and environmental disruption, which have been widely studied. However, their potential benefits have received much less attention. If invasive species contribute to livelihoods, their eradication may negatively impact wellbeing. Failing to value these benefits may lead to an undervaluation of invaded ecosystems. We assess the potential economic benefits of an invasive species within an artisanal fishery in Jamaica. We monitored catches over 259 fisherman-days, and conducted 45 semi-structured interviews, with 76 fishermen. We show that the invasive Australian Red Claw crayfish (Cherax quadricarinatus) is an important source of income for fishermen within the Black River Lower Morass of Jamaica and supplement incomes during periods when native shrimp (Macrobrachium spp.) catches decline. We also show that full-time fishermen and those who have no alternative occupations expend the greatest fishing effort. We use the intra-annual variation of fishermen's harvest effort between seasons (when catch per unit effort changes) as a proxy for dependence. Using this measure, we found that the least wealthy appear to be the most dependent on fishing, and consequently benefit the most from the invasive crayfish. Our results demonstrate the importance of considering the potential benefits of invasive species within integrated landscape management.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)68-77
JournalEcological Economics
Publication statusPublished - 21 Feb 2015

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