The sustainability of coral reef fisheries is jeopardized by complex and interacting socio-ecological stressors that undermine their contribution to food and nutrition security. Climate change has emerged as one of the key stressors threatening coral reefs and their fish-associated services. How fish nutrient concentrations respond to warming oceans remains unclear but these responses are probably affected by both direct (metabolism and trophodynamics) and indirect (habitat and species range shifts) effects. Climate-driven coral habitat loss can cause changes in fish abundance and biomass, revealing potential winners and losers among major fisheries targets that can be predicted using ecological indicators and biological traits. A critical next step is to extend research focused on the quantity of available food (fish biomass) to also consider its nutritional quality, which is relevant to progress in the fields of food security and malnutrition. Biological traits are robust predictors of fish nutrient content and thus potentially indicate how climate-driven changes are expected to impact nutrient availability within future food webs on coral reefs. Here, we outline future research priorities and an anticipatory framework towards sustainable reef fisheries contributing to nutrition-sensitive food systems in a warming ocean.
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C.M. (FT200100870), K.L.N. (DE210100606) and R.D.S.-S. (FT190100599) were supported by Australian Research Council funding. M.A.M. was supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Canada Research Chairs Program. J.P.W.R. received funding from a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship. N.A.J.G. received funding from the Royal Society (URF\R\201029) and from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement number 820989 (project COMFORT). C.C.H. receives funding from a European Research Council Starting Grant (759457) and a Philip Leverhulme Prize. C.D.G. and J.Z.-M. receive funding from the National Science Foundation CNH-L 1826668 and the John and Katie Hansen Family Foundation. D.M. is supported by the 2017–2018 Belmont Forum and BiodivERsA REEF-FUTURES project under the BiodivScen ERA-NET COFUND programme and with the funding organization ANR. The work reflects only our view; the European Commission and their executive agency are not responsible for any use that may be made of the information the work contains.
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Mellin, C., Hicks, C.C., Fordham, D.A. et al. Safeguarding nutrients from coral reefs under climate change. Nat Ecol Evol 6, 1808–1817 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-022-01878-w