Science is fundamental to the understanding of marine ecosystems and how humans interact with them (Christensen et al, 1996).

Science can make an important contribution to a rational approach to marine planning, for example, in developing the evidence base for planning and in appraising options. In particular, science is important in underpinning the prediction and evaluation of likely significant effects as part of strategic environmental assessment. Marine science already supports existing evidence requirements and decision-making. The further development of these approaches will be of value in assisting marine planning processes. However, there remain a number of challenges for marine science in better understanding natural marine ecosystems and their responses to human pressures, including climate change pressures.