This publication provides guidance on how to implement the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (CCRF) using an ecosystem approach to fisheries and aquaculture. The CCRF is a voluntary code covering all aspects of the management and development of fisheries and is designed to ensure sustainable development without adversely affecting the livelihoods of local communities that share the same resources as the fisheries. The authors outline the basic principles of the CCRF, describe concrete steps to be taken to use the ecosystem approach effectively, and recommend certain institutional changes and reforms that will be necessary if the potential of the ecosystem approach is to be realized in the Asia-Pacific region. The most significant reform needed is a paradigm shift in policy from one that is production oriented to one that is benefits oriented (social and economic). There is evidence that this is already being undertaken in the region with efforts being made to limit access, reduce the number of fishing vessels and introduce community-based rights systems. Stakeholder participation is essential and existing legal instruments and practices that interact with or impact fisheries may also need to be reconsidered, and adjustments made where necessary. In the future, it may even be necessary to regulate the inter-sectoral interactions and impacts through primary legislation. To promote broader adoption and implementation of the ecosystem approach by member countries, a wide range of regional activities is suggested by the authors including a media campaign, the building of fishery alliances among countries and capacity building in fishery agencies.