In January 2008, an Ecosystem Research Initiative was established by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) to facilitate integrated research on the Strait of Georgia ecosystem. This project was one of several regional initiatives conceived as pilot projects to assist with developing DFO's ecosystem approaches to management and to enhance the capacity to provide scientific advice in support of these approaches. The Strait of Georgia Ecosystem Research Initiative, which concluded its directly-funded phase in March 2012, fostered a variety of projects aimed at establishing the bases for the management of ecosystem and human interactions in an integrative ecosystem framework. This synthesis, arising largely from projects funded by this initiative, provides a conceptual understanding of how the Strait of Georgia marine ecosystem works, some aspects of its relationships with the human social system of this region, and some important considerations for its management, using an ecosystem approach. In addition, it gives guidance on tools useful for providing science advice in an ecosystem context for this location.