Aquaculture ponds are one of the fastest-growing land use types in valuable and fertile coastal areas and have caused serious environmental problems. Quantitative assessment of the extent, spatial distribution, and dynamics of aquaculture ponds is of utmost importance for sustainable economic development and scientific management of land and water resources in the coastal area. An object-oriented classification approach was applied to Landsat images acquired over three decades to investigate the long-term change of aquaculture ponds in the coastal region of the Yellow River Delta. The results indicated that the aquaculture ponds in the study area undergone a sharp expansion from 40.38 km 2 in 1983 to 1406.89 km 2 in 2015, and the fast expansion occurred during the period of 2010-2015 and 1990-2000. Natural wetlands, especially mudflat, and cropland were main land use types contributing to the increase of aquaculture ponds. The patches of aquaculture ponds were consequently prevalence in the north of the Yellow River Estuary and landscape metrics indicated an increase of the aquaculture ponds of the study area in the quantity and complexity. The expansion of aquaculture ponds inevitably had negative effects on the coastal environment, including loss of natural wetlands, water pollution and land subsidence, etc. The results from this study provide baseline data and valuable information for efficiently planning and managing aquaculture practices and for effectively implementing adequate regulations and protection measures.
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