Since “balanced harvest” was proposed in 2010 as a possible tool in the operationalization of the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries (EAF), the concept gained extensive international attention. Because maintaining ecosystem structure and achieving maximum sustainable yields have become two of the key international legal obligations in fisheries management, balanced harvest is as topical as ever. An international workshop on balanced harvest, organised by the IUCN Fisheries Expert Group at FAO headquarters in 2014, reviewed the progress in the field and discussed its prospects and challenges. Several articles in this theme set, mostly based on presentations from the workshop, discuss ecological, economical, legal, social, and operational issues surrounding the key management goals. Progress is being made on understanding of the theoretical underpinnings of balanced harvest and its practical feasibility. Yet, a fundamental debate on the concept of balanced harvest continues. In order to move the EAF forward, we anticipate and encourage further research and discussion on balanced harvest and similar ideas.