Abstract Seagrasses are among the planet’s most effective natural ecosystems for sequestering (capturing and storing) carbon (C); but if degraded, they could leak stored C into the atmosphere and accelerate global warming. Quantifying and modelling the C sequestration capacity is therefore critical for successfully managing seagrass ecosystems to maintain their substantial abatement potential. At present, there is no mechanism to support carbon financing linked to seagrass. For seagrasses to be recognised by the IPCC and the voluntary C market, standard stock assessment methodologies and inventories of seagrass C stocks are required. Developing accurate C budgets for seagrass meadows is indeed complex; we discuss these complexities, and, in addition, we review techniques and methodologies that will aid development of C budgets. We also consider a simple process-based data assimilation model for predicting how seagrasses will respond to future change, accompanied by a practical list of research priorities.