This paper evaluates the implications of managing fisheries to achieve a BMEY target, or a biomass level that maximizes net economic returns in the fishery, and discusses the role of private ownership and the trade-offs between economic and conservation benefits in this setting. The paper shows how a BMEY target can be used to: (i) determine relative employment and profitability measures; (ii) account for both the harvesting and processing sectors; and (iii) incorporate the interests of consumers and producers of fish. The profits–employment trade-off of adopting a BMEY target vs. a traditional BMSY target is calculated using a model and data from the Western and Central Pacific tuna fisheries (WCPTF), while a generic bioeconomic model is constructed to show numerical values of BMEY from including processing and/or retail sectors and the consumer benefits of harvesting fish. For the WCPTF, results show that the long-term gains per job lost from pursuing a BMEY target are worth several times the value of the average GDP per capita of Pacific Island Countries. The generic bioeconomic model shows that including a processing and/or retail sector, as well as measures of consumer benefit, lowers the BMEY target. However, there remains a broad range of parameter values for which BMEY is still greater than biomass at maximum sustainable yield, or BMSY. The paper also illustrates cases where BMEY > BMSY at different values of the price elasticity of demand, margins for processing and/or retail sectors and values of the discount rate.