Neoclassical Economic Benefits and Costs

From a neoclassical economic standpoint, potential benefits would include increased growth rates of maricultured macroorganisms. Because some modified species can mature in 67% of the normal time, reach sizes up to 11 times that of their natural counterparts, or both, an increase in food supply would result. The effect would be enhanced by potential improvement to marine plant and animal health.

The primary costs that accrue to such an enterprise are related to regulatory and containment costs to prevent accidental releases. Included in containment costs are costs of increasing the strength of cages and securing facilities beyond that already experienced in conventional mari-culture. Forster (1996) reports the cost of aquaculture cages ranges from $10 to $100/m3, with the most expensive cages providing the most containment protection, but suggests that aquaculture would become unprofitable with cage prices above $50/m3. The cost of monitoring to avoid accidental releases would potentially be extremely high and could be particularly difficult to implement; in 1995, expenditures for enforcing all environmental regulations amounted to approximately $115 billion.

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