A global review of the ecosystem services provided by bivalve aquaculture

Andrew van der Schatte Olivier*, Laurence Jones, Lewis Le Vay, Michael Christie, James Wilson, Shelagh K. Malham

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review

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Bivalve shellfish aquaculture provides many benefits to society, beyond their traditional market value. This study collates the evidence available on the provisioning, regulating and cultural ecosystem services provided by the bivalve species commonly used in aquaculture. For the first time, it synthesises this evidence to provide a global assessment of the potential market and non-market economic value of bivalve aquaculture. Bivalves are filter feeders, filtering water and particulates, creating substrates which provide habitat to act as nursery grounds for other species. Goods from provisioning services include meat, worth an estimated $23.9 billion as well as, pearls, shell and poultry grit, with oyster shell being the most important, with a global potential worth of $5.2 billion. The most important regulating services are nutrient remediation. Cultivated bivalves remove 49,000 tonnes of nitrogen and 6,000 tonnes of phosphorus, worth a potential $1.20 billion. Currently, there is little evidence on the cultural services per year of bivalve aquaculture, but we argue that these cultural values are broad ranging, although difficult to quantify. Our assessment indicates that the global, non-food bivalve aquaculture services are worth $6.47 billion ($2.95 billion–9.99 billion) per annum. However, this is likely to be an underestimate of the true value of bivalve aquaculture as there are significant gaps in evidence of the value for a number of key services. The analysis presented here can be used to indicate the likely scale of payments for ecosystem services provided by bivalve aquaculture, prior to more detailed assessments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-25
Number of pages23
JournalReviews in Aquaculture
Issue number1
Early online date12 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020


  • bivalves
  • blue carbon sequestration
  • cultural services
  • nutrient removal
  • regulating services
  • valuation


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