Social sustainability in seafood systems: a rapid review

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Sustainability and sustainable development are the buzzwords of our era. Nowhere is this clearer than in primary production/extraction industries, such as aquaculture and fisheries. Yet in the seafood sector (as with many others), the term continues to be used most commonly in relation to the environmental dimension; much less is known about social and economic sustainability. In this review, we explore what is known about social sustainability in the seafood sector. We identify seven key thematic areas: livelihoods and human development; human rights; social, psychological, and cultural needs; equitable access to resource and benefit sharing; a voice in public issues; flow-on benefits for local and regional economies and improved infrastructure and access. We reveal that while there has been a clear focus on developing social sustainability indicators, this has largely missed more relational and subjective aspects of social sustainability. We also show that some thematic areas of social sustainability also remain underdeveloped. Overall, we argue that it is imperative that we address the knowledge gaps and incorporate what we already know about social sustainability into existing industry and governance processes. If we do not, not only risk not achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, but we also risk moving closer towards environmental and societal collapse.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1
JournalCambridge Prisms Coastal Futures
Early online date13 Dec 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • aquaculture
  • fisheries
  • wellbeing
  • fairness
  • equity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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