Marine ecosystems are home to bacteria which are exposed to a wide variety of environmental conditions, such as extremes in temperature, salinity, nutrient availability and pressure. Survival under these conditions must have necessitated the adaptation and the development of unique cellular biochemistry and metabolism by these microbes. Thus, enzymes isolated from these microbes have the potential to possess quite unique physiological and biochemical properties. This review outlines a number of function-based metagenomic approaches which are available to screen metagenomic libraries constructed from marine ecosystems to facilitate the exploitation of some of these potentially novel biocatalysts. Functional screens to isolate novel cellulases, lipases and esterases, proteases, laccases, oxidoreductases and biosurfactants are described, together with approaches which can be employed to help overcome some of the typical problems encountered with functional metagenomic-based screens.