Marine ecosystems are important not just for the food and income that they generate but also for the many other ecosystem services they provide. These ecosystem services generate benefits for local communities and wider society. A key part of any fisheries management programme must be to ensure the healthy condition of the resources and ecosystems being fished. Without this, the harvests are likely to be reduced and/or unsustainable. As the ecosystem plays other important roles in many economies (e.g. its contribution to tourism) than concern for the wider ecosystem is likely to affect pressure from the local economy on the resource.
There is a growing emphasis being placed on the larger scales involved in fisheries management to begin to address some of these larger ecological issues. LMEs, Seascapes, Marine Ecoregions, Regional Seas and ICM are examples.
Addressing the wider ecosystem needs will often require combining several approaches to management. MPAs are often considered by many to be a central tool in marine ecosystem-based management in tropical inshore fisheries but MPAs are part of a larger group of marine management areas which might include no-take zones, buffer zones, limited access zones - all of which have a role to play in fisheries management depending on the local context.