Integrating seaweeds into marine aquaculture systems: A key toward sustainability

Thierry Chopin, Alejandro H. Buschmann, Christina Halling, Max Troell, Nils Kautsky, Amir Neori, George P. Kraemer, José A. Zertuche-González, Charles Yarish, Christopher Neefus

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review


The rapid development of intensive fed aquaculture (e.g. finfish and shrimp) throughout the world is associated with concerns about the environmental impacts of such often monospecific practices, especially where activities are highly geographically concentrated or located in suboptimal sites whose assimilative capacity is poorly understood and, consequently, prone to being exceeded. One of the main environmental issues is the direct discharge of significant nutrient loads into coastal waters from open-water systems and with the effluents from land-based systems. In its search for best management practices, the aquaculture industry should develop innovative and responsible practices that optimize its efficiency and create diversification, while ensuring the remediation of the consequences of its activities to maintain the health of coastal waters. To avoid pronounced shifts in coastal processes, conversion, not dilution, is a common-sense solution, used for centuries in Asian countries. By integrating fed aquaculture (finfish, shrimp) with inorganic and organic extractive aquaculture (seaweed and shellfish), the wastes of one resource user become a resource (fertilizer or food) for the others. Such a balanced ecosystem approach provides nutrient bioremediation capability, mutual benefits to the cocultured organisms, economic diversification by producing other value-added marine crops, and increased profitability per cultivation unit for the aquaculture industry. Moreover, as guidelines and regulations on aquaculture effluents are forthcoming in several countries, using appropriately selected seaweeds as renewable biological nutrient scrubbers represents a cost-effective means for reaching compliance by reducing the internalization of the total environmental costs. By adopting integrated polytrophic practices, the aquaculture industry should find increasing environmental, economic, and social acceptability and become a full and sustainable partner within the development of integrated coastal management frameworks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)975-986
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Phycology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Assimilative capacity
  • Bioremediation
  • Coastal health
  • Environmental impacts
  • Integrated aquaculture
  • Integrated coastal management
  • Nutrification
  • Salmon
  • Seaweeds
  • Sustainability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Plant Science


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