Abstract The Marine Strategy Framework Directive, adopted by the EU, and several other initiatives to improve marine environmental management emphasize the need to integrate environmental and social analyses. This article proposes and tests a general Behavior-Pressure-State-Impact-Response (BPSIR) framework for identifying and structuring environmentally relevant social data. The framework is compatible with the widely applied Driver-Pressure-State-Impact-Response (DPSIR) framework, but emphasizes actors and their behavior and defines ‘impact’ more specifically. In particular, it distinguishes between: (i) actors directly involved in activities causing physical, chemical, and biological disturbances, and (ii) actors who indirectly affect marine resource use and the pressures on marine ecosystems. Three case studies of chemical and biological disturbances in the Swedish parts of the North and Baltic seas demonstrate the need to balance current ecosystem monitoring with systematically collected and organized data on social factors, i.e., both direct and indirect actors and stakeholders, their adaptation to policy measures, and the role of general trends in consumption and production.