This paper focuses on how a community of researchers under the COMET (CO-ordination and iMplementation of a pan European projecT for radioecology) project has improved the capacity of marine radioecology to understand at the process level the behaviour of radionuclides in the marine environment, uptake by organisms and the resulting doses after the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear accident occurred in 2011. We present new radioecological understanding of the processes involved, such as the interaction of waterborne radionuclides with suspended particles and sediments or the biological uptake and turnover of radionuclides, which have been better quantified and mathematically described. We demonstrate that biokinetic models can better represent radionuclide transfer to biota in non-equilibrium situations, bringing more realism to predictions, especially when combining physical, chemical and biological interactions that occur in such an open and dynamic environment as the ocean. As a result, we are readier now than we were before the FDNPP accident in terms of having models that can be applied to dynamic situations. The paper concludes with our vision for marine radioecology as a fundamental research discipline and we present a strategy for our discipline at the European and international levels. The lessons learned are presented along with their possible applicability to assess/reduce the environmental consequences of future accidents to the marine environment and guidance for future research, as well as to assure the sustainability of marine radioecology. This guidance necessarily reflects on why and where further research funding is needed, signalling the way for future investigations.