Scholars and policy makers have increasingly emphasized the role of market-based instruments (MBIs) for the governance of ecosystem services (ESs). Limited focus however exists on a systematic understanding of how coastal and marine governance facilitates MBIs to sustain ESs. This paper develops a framework for analyzing the governance of MBIs on the basis of four distinctive aspects, including price, regulatory support, coordination, and spatial consideration. This framework can be used to analyze how MBIs are reflected in the governance of coastal and marine ESs and to understand to what extent a market environment is created for ESs. This study focuses on one in-depth case, namely Chinese national coastal and marine governance. The case suggests that existing MBIs are based on ES valuation and impacts and serve for understanding transactions. Moreover, the MBIs tend to show a clear focus on improving policy coordination. Finally, a further understanding of MBIs for coastal and marine governance is needed to also explore the role of voluntary choice.