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The success of natural resource management depends on monitoring, assessment and enforcement. In support of these efforts, reference points (RPs) are often viewed as critical values of management-relevant indicators. This paper considers RPs from the standpoint of objective-driven decision making in dynamic resource systems, guided by principles of structured decision making (SDM) and adaptive resource management (AM). During the development of natural resource policy, RPs have been variously treated as either ‘targets’ or ‘triggers’. Under a SDM/AM paradigm, target RPs correspond approximately to value-based objectives, which may in turn be either of fundamental interest to stakeholders or intermediaries to other...