||The usefulness of indicators in detecting ecosystem change depends on three main criteria: the availability of data to estimate the indicator (measurability), the ability to detect change in an ecosystem (sensitivity), and the ability to link the said change in an indicator as a response to a known intervention or pressure (specificity). Here, we specifically examine the third aspect of indicator change, with an emphasis on multiple methods to explore the “relativity” of major ecosystem drivers. We use a suite of multivariate methods to explore the relationships between a pre-established set of fisheries-orientated ecosystem status indicators and the key drivers for those ecosystems (particularly emphasizing proxy indicators for fishing and the environment). The results show the relative importance among fishing and environmental factors, which differed notably across the major types of ecosystems. Yet, they also demonstrated common patterns in which most ecosystems, and indicators of ecosystem dynamics are largely driven by fisheries (landings) or human (human development index) factors, and secondarily by environmental drivers (e.g. AMO, PDO, SST). How one might utilize this empirical evidence in future efforts for ecosystem approaches to fisheries is discussed, highlighting the need to manage fisheries in the context of environmental and other human (e.g. economic) drivers.