, Volume 46, Issue 4, pp 468–477 | Cite as

Can greening of aquaculture sequester blue carbon?

  • Nesar Ahmed
  • Stuart W. Bunting
  • Marion Glaser
  • Mark S. Flaherty
  • James S. Diana


Globally, blue carbon (i.e., carbon in coastal and marine ecosystems) emissions have been seriously augmented due to the devastating effects of anthropogenic pressures on coastal ecosystems including mangrove swamps, salt marshes, and seagrass meadows. The greening of aquaculture, however, including an ecosystem approach to Integrated Aquaculture-Agriculture (IAA) and Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA) could play a significant role in reversing this trend, enhancing coastal ecosystems, and sequestering blue carbon. Ponds within IAA farming systems sequester more carbon per unit area than conventional fish ponds, natural lakes, and inland seas. The translocation of shrimp culture from mangrove swamps to offshore IMTA could reduce mangrove loss, reverse blue carbon emissions, and in turn increase storage of blue carbon through restoration of mangroves. Moreover, offshore IMTA may create a barrier to trawl fishing which in turn could help restore seagrasses and further enhance blue carbon sequestration. Seaweed and shellfish culture within IMTA could also help to sequester more blue carbon. The greening of aquaculture could face several challenges that need to be addressed in order to realize substantial benefits from enhanced blue carbon sequestration and eventually contribute to global climate change mitigation.


Aquaculture Blue carbon Climate change Coastal ecosystems Mitigation 



The study was supported through the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Germany. The study was a part of the first author’s research work under the Georg Forster Research Fellowship by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation at the Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology, Bremen, Germany. The idea for this paper was generated after the first author attended the 3rd International Symposium on the Effects of Climate Change on the World’s Oceans, Santos, Brazil during 23–27 March 2015 as an invited speaker. Thanks to the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea and the North Pacific Marine Science Organization for supporting attendance at the symposium. We thank three anonymous reviewers for insightful comments and suggestions. The views and opinions expressed herein are solely those of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nesar Ahmed
    • 1
  • Stuart W. Bunting
    • 2
  • Marion Glaser
    • 1
  • Mark S. Flaherty
    • 3
  • James S. Diana
    • 4
  1. 1.Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine EcologyBremenGermany
  2. 2.Bunting AquacultureAgriculture and Aquatic Resources Conservation ServicesGlemsfordUK
  3. 3.Department of GeographyUniversity of VictoriaVictoriaCanada
  4. 4.School of Natural Resources and EnvironmentUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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