Blue food is a cornerstone of many coastal and inland communities, supporting the health and livelihoods of billions of people worldwide. Yet climate change threatens how much blue food wild fisheries and aquaculture can supply. In a warming world, there are multiple hazards: marine fisheries, for instance, must contend with shifting species distributions, shellfish production with ocean acidification, and inland fisheries with prolonged droughts that limit freshwater availability. By undermining production capacity, climate change compromises blue food’s contributions to economic and food security—a risk that has never been fully accounted for, until now.
This paper offers a novel projection of where people stand to lose blue food benefits in a changing climate, and how that risk might be reduced. Risk is determined by the climate hazards every country faces, its dependence on blue food, and its vulnerability should associated benefits disappear. This integrative assessment puts all blue food “on the same table” by conducting an analysis across all production systems and environments. In addition to highlighting the importance of adaptations in the blue food sector, results call for system-level interventions to reduce vulnerability, emphasizing the importance of collective responsibility in strengthening climate resilience.
Capture fisheries, especially in the tropics, face higher climate hazards than aquaculture.
Freshwater systems face higher climate hazards than saltwater systems.
When considering where people depend on blue food benefits the most, much of Africa, South and Southeast Asia, and the Indo-Pacific are most exposed to high climate hazards.
Under a high-emission scenario, by 2050 over 50 countries that heavily depend on blue food will face high climate hazards yet have limited capacity to adapt—creating a “triple jeopardy.”
The analysis clusters countries into different risk profiles to develop region- and context-specific interventions that reduce risk.
To strengthen climate resilience in highly vulnerable countries, initiatives should focus on system-level interventions such as strengthening governance, promoting gender equality and reducing poverty.