Policy drivers for integrating environmental and fishery management in Europe have never been so strong. Scientists calling for better integration now have the opportunity to help deliver it. The main challenge is providing relevant evidence on short time-scales using existing knowledge. Policies, scientists, and society largely agree that management targets should be linked to achieving sustainability, but research often fails to show when fishing impacts ‘matter’ in relation to sustainability criteria. If targets for ecosystem functions or processes are to complement more tractable targets for species and habitats, scientists will need to show why impacts ‘matter’ and when they become unsustainable. For now, and to meet ambitious and pressing policy timetables, priority should be given to developing credible targets for impacts with a high risk of compromising sustainability, rather than dissipating research and advisory effort to achieve broader coverage of state, function, and process. Impacts on sensitive species and habitats often compromise sustainability; thus, setting targets for them is a priority. Meeting these targets will often require management measures that are expected to diminish risks of other unsustainable impacts. Fast and significant progress towards integration could be achieved by incorporating measures to meet environmental targets for sensitive species and habitats into fishery management plans.