Overfishing impacts the three pillars of sustainability: social, ecological and economic. Tuna represent a significant part of the global seafood market with an annual value exceeding USD$42B and are vulnerable to overfishing. Our understanding of how social and economic drivers contribute to overexploitation is not well developed. We address this problem by integrating social, ecological and economic indicators to help predict changes in exploitation status, namely fishing mortality relative to the level that would support the maximum sustainable yield (F/FMSY). To do this we examined F/FMSY for 23 stocks exploited by more than 80 states across the world’s oceans. Low-HDI countries were most at risk of overexploitation of the tuna stocks we examined and increases in economic and social development were not always associated with improved stock status. In the short-term frozen price was a dominant predictor of F/FMSY providing a positive link between the market dynamics and the quantity of fish landed. Given the dependence on seafood in low-income regions, improved measures to safeguard against fisheries overexploitation in the face of global change and uncertainty are needed.