The Government’s vision of achieving clean, safe, healthy, productive and biologically diverse oceans and seas was set out in the first Marine Stewardship Report Safeguarding our Seas, published in May 2002. This announced the Government’s strategy for the conservation and sustainable development of the marine environment and its intention to significantly reduce the threats in one generation. To provide the evidence on which to base and evaluate policies, and to help gauge progress towards achievement of the Government’s vision, Safeguarding our Seas promised that the Government would produce this state of the seas report, setting out an integrated assessment of the state of the UK maritime area. This report primarily brings together the scientific monitoring data, describing and evaluating what the data says about the current state of UK seas, and some of the trends, which are currently observable, although the report is not a forecast. Nor does it describe or evaluate Government policies. But it provides a firm foundation for future policy-making and for Charting Progress towards achieving the vision set out in Safeguarding our Seas. The integrated assessment in this report is a step towards adopting an ecosystem approach to managing the impact of human activities on the marine environment. Such an approach entails taking into consideration all elements that make up the ecosystem (physical, chemical and biological variables) as well as activities taking place there in order to ensure that the biodiversity, health and integrity of the marine environment is maintained in the longer term.