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By Christian Nellemann et al.

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Valiela et al. (2001) estimated that a total of about 35% of the area once covered by mangroves had been lost globally since the 1940s, with current loss rates Southern Ocean carbon sink change Fact box 6. Is the ability of the Southern Oceans to bind carbon also weakening? 5 The Southern Oceans are recognised as an important carbon sink currently taking up approximately 15% of anthropogenic CO2 (CSIRO, 2007). Models predict that as the atmospheric concentration of CO2 increases, so should the ocean’s absorbtive capacity.

Yet, because of their similar functions and threats, coastal habitats can be considered as blue carbon sinks. BLUE CARBON SINKS One key function of vegetated coastal habitats is their role as carbon sinks. Benefiting from the excellent conditions available to support plant growth, vegetated coastal habitats rank amongst the most productive habitats in the world, comparable in production to the most productive agricultural crops (Table 1, Duarte and Chiscano, 1999). Much of their production is used to support ecosystem functions (Duarte and Cebrián, 1996).

Fish (including shellfish) provides essential nutrition for 3 billion people and at least 50% of animal protein and essential minerals to 400 million people in the poorest countries. • Aquaculture is the world’s fastest growing food production system, growing at 7% annually – but the production of externally fed aquaculture (48% of total aquaculture production) is largely dependent upon marine fisheries for feed. • Fish products are among the most widely traded foods, with more than 37% by volume of world production traded internationally.

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