Studies of carbon fluxes in marine ecosystems are often done by using box model approaches with basin size boxes, or highly resolved 3D models, and an emphasis on the pelagic component of the ecosystem. Those approaches work well in the ocean proper, but can give rise to considerable problems when applied to coastal systems, because of the scale of certain ecological niches and the fact that benthic organisms are the dominant functional group of the ecosystem. In addition, 3D models require an extensive modeling effort. In this project, an intermediate approach based on a high resolution (20×20 m) GIS data-grid has been developed for the coastal ecosystem in the Laxemar area (Baltic Sea, Sweden) based on a number of different site investigations. The model has been developed in the context of a safety assessment project for a proposed nuclear waste repository, in which the fate of hypothetically released radionuclides from the planned repository is estimated. The assessment project requires not only a good understanding of the ecosystem dynamics at the site, but also quantification of stocks and flows of matter in the system. The data-grid was then used to set up a carbon budget describing the spatial distribution of biomass, primary production, net ecosystem production and thus where carbon sinks and sources are located in the area. From these results, it was clear that there was a large variation in ecosystem characteristics within the basins and, on a larger scale, that the inner areas are net producing and the outer areas net respiring, even in shallow phytobenthic communities. Benthic processes had a similar or larger influence on carbon fluxes as advective processes in inner areas, whereas the opposite appears to be true in the outer basins. As many radionuclides are expected to follow the pathways of organic matter in the environment, these findings enhance our abilities to realistically describe and predict their fate in the ecosystem.