Mars members are world leaders in fundamental marine research and have important research facilities available that allow direct access to the sea. The network serves furthermore as a forum and as an interest group and communicates with international organisations and the managers of European research, including the Commission of the European Community in Brussels.

Members are located all over Europe, along the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, the North, Irish, Baltic and Adriatic Seas, and the Black and Mediterranean Seas. The network aims to provide a platform which helps to delineate overarching marine research themes, to promote cooperation, and to share relevant expertise and facilities in the marine realm.