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The environmental quality objective and standards (EQO/EQS) approach to controlling and assessing estuarine pollution is described together with details of the information necessary to assess the health of the fish populations and determine whether the EQO/EQS are being met in an estuary. These concepts are illustrated by examples from the Forth estuary, Scotland, involving studies of the ecology, pathology, biochemistry and contaminant bioaccumulation of fish in relation to the benthos, water quality and anthropogenic influences.