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Use of the oceans for disposal of wastes was to be phased out, according to regulations adopted by EPA to implement environmental laws passed by Congress in the 1970s, without regard to selection of the best available option for disposal of specific waste substances. Disposal of seafood wastes in the ocean has created site-specific problems in the past, but ocean disposal may still be the best option when compared with other available options, provided that wastes are managed according to the site-specific environment. Studies of the effects of effluents from fish processing were made for a number of years at Terminal Island, California, while more recently ocean dumping of such wastes from Terminal Island and from Pago Pago, American Samoa has been under investigation. Techniques for evaluating impacts have been tested in the field in those temperate and tropical environments and results compared with results of laboratory bioassays and physico-chemical tests. The regulatory agency positions on effluents have changed, based largely on economic concerns, rather than on consideration of best available options, assimilation capacity of receiving waters or potential for enhancement through management. Effluents, by being fixed in location and more continuous in flow, have more potential for impacts, good or bad, than ocean dumping appears to have, depending on the nature of the wastes, quantities discharged, and technologies utilized in discharge. Techniques for evaluating acute effects versus sublethal long term stress may not be sufficiently sensitive for identifying impacts readily.