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Cost-effectiveness is the fundamental economic test of any damage control or damage mitigation strategy, and damage assessment is the essential component for determination of cost-effectiveness. However, there are many potential costs associated with making damage assessments. The sampling and measurement required to produce a damage assessment have associated effort and costs, but even greater costs can be incurred due to inappropriate management decisions resulting from inaccurate damage assessments. Other costs can result from using an assessment method that is unsuited to management objectives, or by misinterpreting or not understanding the relationship between observed damage and actual losses. The concepts of sampling, measuring and estimating damage for producing relevant inferences and management decisions are examined with the aid of a variety of examples and simulations.