Abstract In this paper, a numerical model is developed for analyzing the role of species life history and age structure for the optimal management of a commercial resident species that is exposed to an invasive species. It is shown that reproduction and mortality characteristics of both species ands age structure of the invader at the time of invasion are important for the costs of invasions when the invader and resident species compete for scarce resources. Commercially harvested species with low juvenile survival and high reproduction are found to be economically more robust against invasions. Species with these life-history traits are also the most damaging as invaders. Properties of the harvesting cost function and the discount rate are shown to be of importance for the development of the invader population over time. Hence, it is possible to identify specific combinations of life-history characteristics and economic conditions under which invasions cause particularly large economic damage.