© Marie Russell, Marine Scotland Science

It is clear that much progress has been made since the need for periodic formal assessments of the state of the seas around the UK was introduced in Safeguarding our Seas, published in 2002. The considerable level of interest in the oceans and seas across society has never been more evident, but we have been challenged by our ability to make assessments of the type required and there is much still to do to provide a truly clear picture of the overall status of our seas as well as the condition of specific components of the marine environment. Providing evidence from the sea is an expensive business and we face significant pressures on the resources society is able to deploy to allow further exploration. Thus, there is a significant challenge to the broad science community to deliver robust yet cost-effective ways of assessing the quality of the marine environment, which will involve innovation in the way the work is carried out and a broad partnership across society. Our cultural heritage as seafaring people and the emotional attachment of many to looking after the sea bodes well for the future health of this vital part of the global life support system.