The rapid growth of aquaculture and concerns about economic and ecological ‘sustainability’ have focused attention on industry externalities. Developing institutions which ‘sustain’ aquaculture will require skills in the ‘art and science’ of public policy modelling. Analysis of existing approaches demonstrates that no single modelling paradigm is ‘best’ for all aquaculture policy situations. Modelling approaches other than cost‐benefit including multiobjective analysis may be more appropriate if the objective of the modeller is to improve the effectiveness of the policy process itself. A review of the relatively small but growing literature on aquaculture policy models reveals a wide range of issues and approaches. In general, economic models have focused on the single objective of maximizing efficiency; in contrast, models used in actual aquacultural policy and planning focus on controlling environmental pollution. The findings suggest that economic models have not yet played a significant role in aquacultural policy development. This raises concerns that myopic views of ‘sustainability’ will result in institutions which do not promote socially efficient aquacultural industry growth.

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