International commerce places unique pressures on the sustainability of water resources and marine environments. System impacts include noise, emissions, and chemical and biological pollutants as well as the introduction of invasive species into key ecosystems. At the same time, maritime trade also enables the sustainability ambition of intragenerational equity in the economy through the global circulation of commodities and manufactured goods, including agricultural, energy and mining resources. The Sustainable Oceans Project is working to extend and demonstrate a systems framework for analyzing the multiple dimensions of the sustainable ocean-commerce nexus. As a demonstration case, the social, economic and environmental aspects of the nexus framework are explored using scenarios for the production and transportation of conventional and bio-based energy commodities.