Seaweed harvesting has been important for many coastal communities around the world, although today aquaculture supplies >96% of global seaweed production. Current wild harvests mostly target canopy-forming kelp, rockweed and red macroalgae that also provide critical ecosystem functions and services. Here, we outline potential ecosystem-based management approaches that would help sustain productive and diverse seaweed-based ecosystems. Although current management often aims for sustainable harvesting, it mostly does so in a single-species and not ecosystem-based context. Our review suggests how to define and operationalize ecosystem-based management of seaweed harvesting that can inform management and conservation.