Ecosystem-based management is an emerging paradigm influencing the management of commercial fisheries. Increasingly, developed nations are adopting explicit legislation and policy governing the assessment and management of their fisheries against criteria of ecological sustainability. Yet the ability to evaluate ecosystem impacts of fisheries is compromised by a general lack of understanding of marine ecosystem function (beyond the population level) and a lack of robust and practical indicators for ecosystem health and management. Recent technological advances can assist in developing criteria, including structural analyses of seafloor communities potentially impacted by fishing gears (e.g. demersal trawling). Similarly, advances in fishing gear technology, including improved selectivity and the development of gears which have a more benign environmental impact, can mitigate some of the ecological impacts of fishing. Such technological advances are summarized in the context of contemporary fisheries management.