Blue carbon

Updated 6 March 2016


  • Blue carbon is about increasing carbon levels in the sea or water such as through mangroves, seagrass or saltmarsh.
  • The first blue carbon methodology was approved in the US but no active methodology development is taking place in Australia.
  • Blue carbon projects are currently excluded from the ERF in Australia.


Blue carbon is about increasing the amount of carbon stored in marine environments. This activity could be done in the north of Australia where there are lots of mangroves and seagrass beds. It might have particular relevance for Aboriginal titles which go to the low water mark in the Northern Territory.

Could we make a method for increasing our depleted northern mangroves?

Could we make a method for increasing our depleted northern mangroves?

Methodology development is still in the early days and there is currently no technical working group or funding directed towards a blue carbon methodology. However, a blue carbon workshop of relevant experts and researchers, arranged by Aboriginal Carbon Fund, was held in Cairns in June 2012. One issue raised is dealing with carbon rights and property issues in the sea. The CSIRO Coastal Carbon Cluster aims to increase the knowledge on carbon stocks in Australia's marine environments and the processes that lead to changes in those stocks. This could help underpin methodology development in future. A methodology is likely some years away.


The first blue carbon methodology has been approved in the USA - a methodology to restore wetland delta areas approved by the American Carbon Registry. Developed by Tierra Resources and Louisiana State University in the US, the methodology delivers recycled wastewaster to areas affected by saltwater intrusion to add nutrients and fresh water. Increased biomass can then grow and increase the carbon stored in the water. The pilot project was near New Orleans and is important to help protect infrastructure in the delta area.


Blue carbon projects in the sea are non-Kyoto activities because the emissions from the sea do not count towards Australia's national account under the Kyoto Protocol. As non-Kyoto projects are currently excluded from the ERF, blue carbon projects are not an eligible activity. For more see Kyoto changes explained.


Paper Mangrove biomass estimation Jachowski et al 2014

Method Restoration of Degraded Wetlands in the Mississippi Delta American Carbon Registry

Blog Blue carbon blue moon? Aboriginal Carbon Fund

Article Mangrove ‘the plant that offsets most carbon in the Arabian Peninsula’ The National UAE