Conceptual models are simplified, visual representations that can be used to communicate our understanding of complex systems and processes. They provide an ideal platform to integrate and synthesize knowledge across different disciplines and roles. In ecosystem-based management (EBM), these roles may include scientists, policy-makers, industry, resource managers, and other stakeholders (e.g. recreational users, landowners, and non-governmental organizations). Conceptual models are also directly applicable to management and show the potential implications and trade-offs of management alternatives. Conceptual models have a rich 60+ year history of applications to ecology (Odum 1957) and to social sciences, including how society interacts with the environment (Sauer 1952). There is scientific consensus that to optimize management of coastal and marine ecosystems, including marine protected areas, we must implement EBM. One of the fundamental tenets of EBM is that the ecosystem is a coupled socioecological system with humans as an integral component. Thus, to implement EBM we must understand how this socioecological system functions and accurately communicate our understanding of this complex system to resource managers, and stakeholders. One of the earliest examples of applying conceptual models to improve ecosystem manage-ment was the use of pressure-state-response models. These models were used as far back as 1993 to aid in the selection of socioecological indicators (Bowen and Riley 2003). This model framework was later modified to become the Driver-Pressure-State-Impact-Response (DPSIR) model that more fully depicted how human society affected ecosystems.