Fishing and other anthropogenic impacts have led to declines in many sh stocks and modication of the seabed. As a result, efforts to restore marine ecosystems have become increasingly focused on spatially explicit management methods to protect sh and the habitats they require for survival. This has led to a proliferation of investigations trying to map ‘habitats’ vulnerable to anthropogenic impacts and identify sh resource requirements to meet conservation and management needs. A wide range of habitat-related concepts, with different uses and understandings of the word ‘habitat’ itself has arisen as a consequence. Inconsistencies in terminology can cause confusion between studies, making it difcult to investigate and understand the ecology of sh and the factors that affect their survival. Ultimately, the inability to discern the relationships between sh and their environment clearly can hinder conservation and management measures for sh populations. This review identies and addresses the present ambiguity surrounding denitions of habitat and habitatrelated concepts currently used in spatial management of demersal marine sh populations. The role of spatial and temporal scales is considered, in addition to examples of how to assess sh habitat for conservation and management purposes.