Fisheries and aquaculture make a crucial contribution to global food security, nutrition and livelihoods. However, the UN Sustainable Development Goals separate marine and terrestrial food production sectors and ecosystems. To sustainably meet increasing global demands for fish, the interlinkages among goals within and across fisheries, aquaculture and agriculture sectors must be recognized and addressed along with their changing nature. Here, we assess and highlight development challenges for fisheries-dependent countries based on analyses of interactions and trade-offs between goals focusing on food, biodiversity and climate change. We demonstrate that some countries are likely to face double jeopardies in both fisheries and agriculture sectors under climate change. The strategies to mitigate these risks will be context-dependent, and will need to directly address the trade-offs among Sustainable Development Goals, such as halting biodiversity loss and reducing poverty. Countries with low adaptive capacity but increasing demand for food require greater support and capacity building to transition towards reconciling trade-offs. Necessary actions are context-dependent and include effective governance, improved management and conservation, maximizing societal and environmental benefits from trade, increased equitability of distribution and innovation in food production, including continued development of low input and low impact aquaculture.

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J.L.B. acknowledges funding from the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) ‘Marine Ecosystems Research Programme’, the Centre for Marine Socioecology, the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, the Australian Integrated Marine Observing System and CSIRO. R.A.W. acknowledges funding support from the Australian Research Council Discovery project support (DP140101377). E.A.F acknowledges funding support from the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (2010/023) on behalf of the Australian government. S.J. acknowledges funding support from the UK Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (project MF1225 ‘Integration of environmental and fisheries management’). Financial support for the fisheries and agriculture production data was provided by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF, grant no. 01LS1201A1) through the Inter-Sectoral Impact Model Intercomparison Project (ISI-MIP). H.K.L acknowledges funding support from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada. D.P.T. acknowledges funding from the Kanne Rassmussen Foundation, Denmark. We thank T. Smith and V. Saba for comments that greatly helped us improve earlier drafts.

Author information


  1. Institute for Marine & Antarctic Studies (IMAS), University of Tasmania, GPO Box 252-49, Hobart, TAS, 7001, Australia

    • Julia L. Blanchard
    • , Reg A. Watson
    • , Richard S. Cottrell
    •  & Kirsty L. Nash
  2. Centre for Marine Socioecology, University of Tasmania, GPO Box 252-49, Hobart, TAS, 7001, Australia

    • Julia L. Blanchard
    • , Reg A. Watson
    • , Elizabeth A. Fulton
    • , Richard S. Cottrell
    •  & Kirsty L. Nash
  3. CSIRO Oceans & Atmosphere, GPO Box 1538, Hobart, TAS, 7001, Australia

    • Elizabeth A. Fulton
  4. Department of Biology, Dalhousie University, PO Box 15000, Halifax, NS, B3H 4R2, Canada

    • Andrea Bryndum-Buchholz
    • , Tyler D. Eddy
    •  & Heike K. Lotze
  5. Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Telegraphenberg A31, 14473, Potsdam, Germany

    • Matthias Büchner
    •  & Christoph Müller
  6. Department of Mathematics, Université du Québec à Montréal, Montréal, Canada

    • David A. Carozza
  7. Changing Ocean Research Unit, Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, The University of British Columbia, AERL, 2202 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z4, Canada

    • William W. L. Cheung
    •  & Tyler D. Eddy
  8. University of Chicago Computation Institute, Chicago, IL, 60637, USA

    • Joshua Elliott
  9. Earth to Ocean Research Group, Biological Sciences, Simon Fraser University, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby, BC, V5A 1S6, Canada

    • Lindsay N. K. Davidson
    •  & Nicholas K. Dulvy
  10. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, Princeton, NJ, 08540, USA

    • John P. Dunne
  11. Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals (ICTA) and Department of Mathematics, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, Bellaterra, 08193, Spain

    • Eric Galbraith
  12. ICREA, Pg. Lluís Companys 23, 08010, Barcelona, Spain

    • Eric Galbraith
  13. IRD, UMR 248 MARBEC, Av Jean Monnet CS 30171, 34203, SETE cedex, France

    • Olivier Maury
  14. United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre, 219 Huntingdon Road, Cambridge, CB3 0DL, UK

    • Derek P. Tittensor
  15. Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, Lowestoft Laboratory, Lowestoft, NR33 0HT, UK

    • Simon Jennings
  16. School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich Research Park, Norwich, NR4 7TJ, UK

    • Simon Jennings
  17. International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, H.C. Andersens Blvd 44-46, 1553, København V, Denmark

    • Simon Jennings


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J.L.B. and S.J. designed the study, carried out analyses and wrote the paper; R.A.W. and E.A.F. contributed to developing the paper through ideas, analyses and figures; N.K.D. and L.N.K.D. provided interpretation and access to marine biodiversity threat data. J.D., J.E. and C.M. provided interpretation and access to agriculture and Earth system multi-model ensemble outputs. D.T., H.K.L., T.D.E., M.B, A.B., W.W.C., E.G., D.C. and O.M. provided interpretation and access to marine fishery climate change multi-model ensemble outputs. All authors provided comments on the text and figures that helped to develop the paper.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Julia L. Blanchard.

Electronic supplementary material

  1. Supplementary Information

    Supplementary Notes, Supplementary Table; Supplementary References; Supplementary Figures 1–3