Coastal ecosystems and artisanal fisheries show a great complexity due to the high number of human factors that influence their functioning and to the number of components involved in the fishing activity. Moreover, a great number of stocks exploited by coastal artisanal fisheries are invertebrates with a strong and persistent spatial structure and a population dynamics that do not fit the finfish models. The present state of the artisanal coastal fisheries in Galicia (NW Spain) is analyzed, presenting different symptoms of a general state of overexploitation derived from the mismatch between management (derived from models designed for industrial finfisheries) and the biological and socioeconomic context. We propose to modify the strategies of research to use inexpensive and rapid methodologies and introduce the fishers' ecological knowledge. A new management policy is outlined based in the establishment of territorial users' rights, the involvement of fishers in the assessment and management process, and the use of protected areas and minimum sizes as key regulation tools.