Fisheries represent a fundamental resource linking social and ecological systems. Yet, unsustainable fishing regimes prevail across many tropical regions as a result of growing consumer demand and market expansion. Using the extensive reef-fish trade between Chuuk and Guam (Micronesia) as a case study, we examined 12 years of commercial reef-fish export data to capture both inter-annual and intra-annual trends. Reef-fish exports from Chuuk increased steadily between 2003 and 2010 fueled by increasing demand on Guam, but declined sharply from 2010 to 2014 as export costs grew and profit margins were reduced. Intra-annual examinations furthered that low winds and new moon periods were the strongest drivers of daily exports during the initial years of the study, but the governmental disbursement of food-stamp allowances on Guam became the strongest driver in later years when profit margins were lower. Seasonal cycles were also influential, as exports within each year peaked during the Catholic lent season. In sum, the Chuuk-Guam reef-fish trade industry became increasingly dependent on opportunistic demand from Guam, while environmental regimes evolved to become secondary drivers of export volume. The ability to meet foreign demand may suggest a sustainable fishery in Chuuk, however, mounting evidence suggests that consistent supply to international markets masks growing, unsustainable harvesting regimes. Dwindling profits may lead to instability in Guam’s fresh reef-fish trade industry, and also suggested uncertain futures for Chuuk fishers, Guam retailers, and a society dependent on healthy protein. We last compared the sequential expansion of Guam’s reef-fish acquisition footprint across the Indo-Pacific with expansions reported for the Hong Kong live reef food fish trade industry, highlighting the growing impacts of population centers on small-scale coral-reef fisheries as markets globalize.