Oct 7, 2011

Removing Offshore Oil Rigs Can Harm the Marine Resource

by Bill Shedd

Masses of Dead Red Snapper shows the result of rushing to remove offshore oil rigs by using dynamite

Last week on this blog we reprinted an excellent report from Doug Olander, editor of Sport Fishing Magazine, entitled “Stop the Plan to Destroy Our Gulf’s Living Coral Reefs” and the attached photo is a follow up to that blog.

Sportfishermen appreciate the habitat value provided by offshore oil rigs.  We think it is important to understand and evaluate the importance of this habitat prior to removing the rig once the oil beneath it has been extracted.  Some in the extreme environmental community are so blinded by their dislike for the oil industry that they push to have this important habitat removed without consideration of its potential future habitat value as an artificial reef site. They call it junk on the bottom of the ocean, while the fish and other ocean life call it home.

Since 1995, AFTCO, starting with our former Chairman Milt Shedd, has been working in California to help create a Rig-To-Reefs program.  The goal of this program was to evaluate habitat value of an offshore oil rig before it was removed.  If it was determined to be a net positive to the marine resource, the underwater portion of that rig would left in place as a life producing artificial reef. The photo shows the obvious damage that canbe caused by removal of an offshore oil rig. But what about the unseen loss? What about the vast quantities of marine life and habitat that is destroyed sight unseen?  Converting off shore rigs to artificial reefs can be a valuable tool in our collective efforts to look after the ocean resource.


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