In this paper, the specific primary production required (SPPR expressed as kg-NPP/kg-fish in wet weight) of more than 1700 marine species were calculated directly from 96 published food web models using the newly developed SPPR calculation framework. The relationship between SPPR and other ecological factors were then statistically analyzed. Among- and within-species variability of SPPR were found to be both explained by trophic level (TL), suggesting similar mechanisms underpinning both sources of variability. Among species, we found that harvesting species at higher mean trophic levels (MTL) increases the mean SPPR by a factor of 19 per 1 unit increase in MTL. Based on our empirical relationship, the mean SPPR of more than 9000 marine species were predicted and subsequently used to assess the primary production required (PPR) to support fisheries in five major fishing countries in Europe. The results indicated that conventional approach to estimating PPR, which neglects food web ecology, can underestimate PPR by up to a factor of 5. Within species, we found that harvesting populations occupying a higher TL leads to a higher SPPR. For example, the SPPR of Atlantic cod in the Celtic Sea (TL = 4.75) was 5 times higher than in the Gilbert Bay (TL = 3.3). Our results, which are based on large amounts of field data, highlight the importance of properly accounting for ecological factors during the impact assessment of fisheries.