Marine pollution regulation and prevention

For the purpose of regulation, pollutants in marine environment fall into two categories: nutrients and toxic substances.

Policies regarding the introduction of contaminants into the marine environment reflect three general approaches:

The determination of acceptable levels or standards for toxic chemicals is always controversial. It is described as an attempt to scientifically define how much contamination an ocean or sea system can withstand before it is seriously damaged. This limit, referred to as the "assimi-lative capacity", is based on belief that contaminants are not harmful at low levels and there is a threshold of concentration for each chemical below which no harm is done. This approach is rarely able to incorporate the additive and synergistic effects of a variety of pollutants from a variety of sources.