The Pentland Firth, located between the north coast of mainland Scotland (UK) and the Orkney Islands, is recognised as an excellent location for the utilisation of tidal stream technology. Potential ecological impacts associated with tidal stream technology may ultimately depend on device design, array size and deployment location. Available ecological data for the Pentland Firth is summarised and strategic priorities for assessing ecological impacts are provided. Baseline data on marine species and habitats in the Pentland Firth is severely lacking and consequently the integrity of any environmental impact assessment could be compromised by this lack of data. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.