There is a growing recognition that blue foods have an essential role to play in the shift towards healthy, equitable and sustainable food systems. While concerns about the blue food sector’s environmental impacts have intensified, little attention has been paid to the vulnerability of blue food systems to human-induced environmental change. This paper provides the first global assessment of the vulnerability of blue food production systems to date and identifies the predominant human-induced stressors affecting the production and safety of blue foods.
This paper identifies the ten predominant stressors affecting the production quantity and the seven stressors affecting the safety of blue foods. It reveals which blue food systems and geographies are the most vulnerable and highlights which adaptation and mitigation measures should be prioritized. Results provide decision-makers with new scientific insights to enable strategic planning and policy development to maintain sustainable and resilient blue food value chains in the face of environmental change.
Ten key threats affecting the quantity of production include warming, acidification, sea level rise, severe weather events, altered precipitation, hypoxia, eutrophication, diseases, invasions, and parasites.
Seven major concerns for quality and safety include harmful algal blooms, non-indigenous bacteria (e.g., from land run-off), indigenous bacteria (e.g., from climate change), heavy metals, persistent organic pollutants, pesticides, and antibiotics.
Marine production faces high threats in production quantity across many geographical locations, whereas threats to inland production are concentrated within a handful of countries.
Marine fisheries were more vulnerable to climatic stresses particularly warming and acidification, while aquaculture was more vulnerable to non-climatic stresses such as diseases and hypoxia.
The cluster of countries responsible for the majority of blue food production on our planet was the most affected in terms of quantity and safety across all blue food production systems.
Decision-makers should prioritize adaptation and mitigation actions in Asia, Latin America and Africa due to high risk and low national response capacities.