Every port, including the port of Bristol, is obliged to have a plan for marine pollution control in place, outlining procedures and strategies for dealing with potential incidents of pollution. Both point-source pollution (e.g. an oil spill) and diffuse pollution (originating from agriculture, settlements, transport, industry, etc.) can affect water quality and disrupt ecosystems, changing the abundance and distribution of wildlife.
Various techniques are used to remediate polluted water. These include chemical treatment of polluted sections of the ocean. In the case of oil spills and similar incidents, equipment like booms and barriers are used to restrict the movement of the pollutant.
Since 1993, it has been illegal to dump industrial waste in the ocean, and from 1998, the dumping of sewage sludge was also banned. The Water Framework Directive is the primary piece of legislation that currently ensures limitation of marine pollution. It requires that the UK's river, lakes, ground and coastal waters to reach a good ecological and chemical status by 2015. The Merchant Shipping (Prevention of Pollution by Sewage and Garbage from Ships) Regulations 2008 also form an integral part of prevention of marine pollution.
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