There is an increasing need for a comprehensive institutional understanding pertaining to ecosystem services (ESs) in coastal and marine fields. This paper develops a systematic framework to inform coastal and marine governance about the integration of ES concepts. First, as a theoretical basis, we analyze the generic rules that are part of the Institutional Analysis and Development (IAD) framework. Second, by an extensive literature review, we formulate a set of ES-specific rules and develop an evaluative framework for coastal and marine governance. Third, we examine this evaluative framework in a specific action situation, namely coastal strategic planning concerning Qingdao, China. Results from the literature review and the case study reveal that when designing ES-specific rules for coastal and marine governance, there are several socio-spatial and economic aspects that should be taken into account: (1) conceive of stakeholders as ES users, (2) capture the effect of ecological scaling, (3) understand ES interactions and clarify indirect impacts and causalities, (4) account for ES values, and (5) draw on economic choices for use rights to deal with ES issues. (C) 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.