Th is volume consolidates the lessons learnt from a series of seminars organized to bring natural scientists, social scientists and the policy and practice community together to consider the challenges of applying the ecosystem approach (EA) to marine planning and management. During the course of the seminar series the world changed; new science revealed yet more about the scale of threats to the marine ecosystem; new international accords were signed; the Copenhagen conference on climate change failed to address issues of carbon dioxide emissions, so entraining further warming and acidifi cation of the oceans; and new legislative measures were introduced, including the UK’s 2009 Marine and Coastal Access Act, which incorporates provision for the development of a marine spatial planning framework and the designation of networks of marine protected areas. It could be thought that this shifting scene would detract from the currency of the arguments presented here, however, in many respects, the opposite is true as it serves to illustrate the complexity of factors infl uencing eff ective planning and management of the marine environment and the need for the holistic and transdisciplinary responses that are envisaged in EA and are the focus of

discussion here. In this fi nal chapter we synthesize the contributions set out in the previous chapters and the general conclusions of the seminar series, and refl ect on the way forward.