Active- and passive-acoustic methods are widely used tools for observing, monitoring, and understanding marine ecosystems. From 25 to 28 May 2015, 214 scientists from 31 nations gathered for an ICES symposium on Marine Ecosystem Acoustics (SoME Acoustics) to discuss three major themes related to acoustic observations of marine ecosystems: (i) recent developments in acoustic and platform technologies; (ii) acoustic characterisation of aquatic organisms, ecosystem structure, and ecosystem processes; and (iii) contribution of acoustics to integrated ecosystem assessments and management. The development of, and access to new instruments, such as broad bandwidth systems, enables insightful ecological studies and innovative management approaches. Unresolved ecological questions and the increasing move towards ecosystem based management pose further challenges to scientists and instrument developers. Considering the SoME Acoustics presentations in the context of three previous ICES symposia on fisheries acoustics, topics increasingly emphasize ecosystem studies and management. The continued expansion of work and progress in marine ecosystem acoustics is due to the cross-disciplinary work of fisheries acousticians, engineers, ecologists, modellers, and others. An analysis of the symposium co-authorship network reveals a highly connected acoustic science community collaborating around the globe.