Associated Mangrove Aquaculture

Wetlands International
Published: 16 September 2021
Last edited: 06 February 2023
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Expanding shrimp aquaculture has driven mangrove loss worldwide, making tropical deltas and coastlines vulnerable to erosion, flooding and land-loss, thus reducing livelihood options for the coastal populations. In Demak district in Central Java, Indonesia, we introduced the Associated Mangrove Aquaculture (AMA) systems. Farmers were asked to give up part of their aquaculture pond by building a new dike with new gates while creating a sloped space for a riparian mangrove greenbelt. To create willingness and capacity, local shrimp farmers were trained on the job through Coastal Field Schools that promoted environmentally friendly aquaculture practices and could boost their income. In the first year, about 100 farmers in Demak converted about 10% of their total 104 ha of ponds into mangrove habitat, where sediments settle and mangroves recruit (regrow?) naturally within one year.


Central America
South America
South Asia
Southeast Asia
Scale of implementation
Marine and coastal ecosystems
Access and benefit sharing
Coastal and marine spatial management
Disaster risk reduction
Ecosystem services
Erosion prevention
Fisheries and aquaculture
Food security
Habitat fragmentation and degradation
Indigenous people
Local actors
Not listed
Protected and conserved areas governance
Science and research
Sustainable financing
Sustainable livelihoods
Traditional knowledge
Other theme
Fisheries and aquaculture
Land and Forest degradation
Loss of Biodiversity
Sea level rise
Storm surges
Tsunami/tidal wave
Conflicting uses / cumulative impacts
Ecosystem loss
Infrastructure development
Lack of alternative income opportunities
Lack of technical capacity
Lack of public and decision maker’s awareness
Poor governance and participation
Lack of food security
Unemployment / poverty
Sustainable development goals
SDG 1 – No poverty
SDG 2 – Zero hunger
SDG 3 – Good health and well-being
SDG 8 – Decent work and economic growth
SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities
SDG 12 – Responsible consumption and production
SDG 13 – Climate action
SDG 14 – Life below water
Aichi targets
Target 1: Awareness of biodiversity increased
Target 2: Biodiversity values integrated
Target 3: Incentives reformed
Target 4: Sustainable production and consumption
Target 5: Habitat loss halved or reduced
Target 7: Sustainable agriculture, aquaculture and forestry
Target 10: Ecosystems vulnerable to climate change
Target 11: Protected and conserved areas
Target 14: Ecosystem services
Target 15: Ecosystem restoration and resilience
Target 18: Traditional knowledge
Target 19: Sharing information and knowledge
Sendai Framework
Target 2: Reduce the number of affected people globally by 2030
Target 3: Reduce direct disaster economic loss in relation to GDP by 2030
Business engagement approach
Direct engagement with associations
Indirect through legal actors
(I)NDC Submission


Demak, Central Java, Indonesia


The first challenge, farmers willingness to reduce pond size, was levied through the increased yields and incomes after the fieldschool training. The 2nd, enough capital for the building of the new dike and watergates, was relieved with a Bio-Rights subvention (see building block Bio-Rights). For the 3rd challenge, technical implementation, we prepared guidelines, held a training for the fieldworkers and conducted practical workshops for the participating farmers in each community. The 4th challenge relates to removing the old dike as this may lead to loss of landrights and to exposure of the bunds(?) of neighboring ponds. As a first step, farmers opened the water gates in the old dikes more frequently or permanently; when all ponds along a waterway are converted into Associated Mangrove Aquaculture Systems and the community has ruled on the property rights, farmers can stop maintaining the old dikes or remove them.


Fish farmers along shoreline (stable yields), further away (protected ponds)

Fishermen (improved fish stocks)

Entire community: reduced risks (flood, erosion), biodiversity.

Local authorities: reduced risks, local economy boosted

How do the building blocks interact?

The CFS created knowledge and awareness on the importance of mangrove, and built the capacity of farmers to sustainably increase their yields and income. Overall, this gave them the willingness to contribute to greenbelt recovery either by giving up entire ponds or building AMAs. The Bio-rights contracts provided these farmers a compensation either for the lost income, or for the investment in the extra dike with new water gates. The latter was organised, as traditionally, in groups who helped each other. [I don't understand this sentence. Is it necessary?]

Thus, these resource-poor farmers were given the human, social and financial capacity to transform their aquaculture production system and contribute to the recovery of the riparian greenbelts by making an AMA from their ponds. As fishermen benefit from improved catches, they support innovation at a community level; attribute budgeting for greenbelt recovery; and rule on property or user rights of mangrove products. 


Associated Mangrove Aquaculture (AMA) creates a habitat where mangroves can recruit naturally, thus restoring mangrove greenbelts along the waterways in the estuary. These riparian greenbelts contributed to the conservation of biodiversity, sedimentation and thus the protection of the adjoining ponds, and improves water quality. The restored mangrove landscape with good connectivity between coastal and riverine habitats enhanced capture fisheries. AMA is a type of silvo-aquaculture, but in contrast to the usual systems promoted in Indonesia, where the mangroves are planted on the dykes and in the pond, the mangroves in AMA are located outside the pond and thus have more ecosystem functions. Moreover, separating the mangroves from the pond allows better management of the water quality for the cultured species, and smaller ponds generally provide higher yields. Through good aquaculture practices, the productivity of the remaining pond and farmers' incomes were boosted (see Building Block Coastal Field Schools). The coastline protected by mangroves and the increased incomes helped communities to adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change.


Wetlands International

AMA and IMTA changed family livelihoods

Since 2000, pak Abdul Kohar did not stock shrimp or milkfish in his 2 hectare pond. In the second month after stocking shrimp, most of these died; while some were lost during spring tides. So, he harvested the wild seafood that got trapped in his pond and in the gate traps at full moon. In 2017, the Building with Nature Indonesia project proposed to the village group to apply AMA in ponds adjacent to rivers. The location of his pond matched the criteria, and he built the extra dyke and gates using money from the Bio-rights mechanism. In 2018, he started emptying his gate traps daily. The results made him very happy, next to fish, such as mullet and white snapper, he caught tiger prawns (Penaeus monodon) and white shrimp (P. merguensis); the last two he hardly ever caught in the last years. This made Kohar think that his pond could be used again for cultivation.


Also, in 2017, UNDIP-FPIK-Aquaculture looked for farmers who would pilot IMTA. In this IMTA, shrimp, milkfish, seaweed, cockle and a cage with tilapia are combined to take advantage of all nutrients in the water. Pak Kohar tried to grow the tiger prawns, milkfish, blood clams and seaweed together. In the first cycle, the shrimp did not die; in the third month, he harvested 50 kg of tiger prawns and 500 kg of blood clams, of which he initially stocked 200 kg. In addition, the milkfish harvest, which used to be only 200 kg before 2000, reached 600 kg.


Pak Kohar also succeeded in cultivating seaweed, and in producing enough volume to interested factory buyers. Later, he proposed to several other farmers to add seaweed in their shrimp pond. This initial success encouraged Kohar to manage his pond more seriously. After preparing the pond, he added tilapia to his other crops. His second year was even more successful: His yields doubled for shrimp and milkfish, and tripled for blood clams. In addition, the daily catches in his traps increased both in volume and variation. He also caught blue swimming crabs, which have a high selling price.


This overall success gave Kohar the capital to improve his other pond. Kohar also applies AMA, IMTA, and his other learnings from the AFS. From the remaining money, he bought a new motorbike for the daily transport of his small family.

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Susanna Tol Wetlands International