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EcoRigs is a non-profit 501 (c) corporation. Its mission is to save retired platforms from removal to be redeployed for use in sustainable fisheries, recreational fisheries, fish sanctuaries, renewable energy, sequestration of greenhouse gases, and other beneficial environmental applications. 

Steve Kolian is director and founder,  Scott Porter, Paul Sammarco, Michael Boatright, Jim Flagg, Toby Armstrong, Susan Forsyth, Charles Reith, Chuck Bedell, Dean Schweinler, are members who have contributed their time and effort. Toby Armstrong, Jim Flagg, Dean Schweinler, Tom McPhee, John Forteir, and Scott Porter supplied the underwater photography. The text was prepared by Steve Kolian.  A short biography of some of the team members is available below.

 

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Steve Kolian - Biographical Sketch  

Steve Kolian grew up commercial fishing in the Gulf of Mexico and received his graduate degree from Tulane University in Environmental Science. He participated in a progressive marine aquaculture project as a research scientist at Louisiana Marine Consortium (LUMCON) and has consulted for the offshore oil and gas industry.  Steve is interested in redeployment of retired oil and gas platforms for use in sustainable fisheries and renewable ocean energy applications. He has conducted several years of research into Japanese Marine Habitat Enhancement technology. Mr. Kolian is also interested in fish ecology with emphasis on recruitment dynamics, artificial reefs as part of a larger comprehensive culture fishery, marine stock enhancement, telemetry of reef fish in orientation to reef habitats, and food energetics and population dynamics of reef ecosystems. 

Paul W. Sammarco - Biographical Sketch 

Dr. Paul W. Sammarco is a Professor at the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON) in Chauvin, Louisiana, USA.  He has been conducting research on coral reef ecology for 30 years, in the western Atlantic (Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and the Bahamas) and on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia.  He has served an Assistant Professor at Clarkson University (NY), a senior research scientist at the Australian Institute of Marine Science, and Executive Director and a Research Professor at LUMCON.  He also served as the Director of Environmental Research for the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet in Australia for several years.  He has worked at the margins of ecology and evolution and at the interface of physics, chemistry, geology, and mathematics for many years.   With respect to work on Gulf of Mexico, Dr. Sammarco is currently conducting an interdisciplinary study to determine sources and sinks of coral larvae.  Working with US Department of the Interior – Minerals Management Service, he is attempting to demonstrate the expansion of Caribbean corals into the Gulf of Mexico through their colonization of offshore oil and gas platforms.    

Scott Porter - Biographical Sketch

Scott Porter is a staff scientist at LUMCON and has over 21 years experience as an investigative biologist with an environmental survey company – EcoLogic Environmental. He began as an oil field consultant whose zone of study includes the coastal Gulf States with a concentration in the Louisiana's estuaries and petroleum platforms.   Through his services as an independent survey biologist specializing in biological resource analysis, the P I has collected over 5,000 biological reef samples and has over 3,000 scuba dives from 1988-2009. Mr. Porter holds a degree in Marine Biology. He has discovered new species on the platform that have yet to be documented in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean. Mr. Porter is one of the best field biologist in the Gulf of Mexico.

Michael Boatright - Biographical Sketch

Mr. Boatright has been culturing and selling coral and ornamental fish for the last several years.  He owns and operates Marine Gadens, LLC a 13 acre aqua farm and Reef Keeper’s Coral Outlet. Mr. Boatright distributes coral collected from sources all over the world to aquarium enthusiasts across the country. He is a certified professional diver in the Gulf of Mexico and has been working on offshore platforms for over 30 years. His diving certifications include FEMA: Professional Development Series, Emergency Management, Texas Tech, Emergency Management, Dive Rescue Specialist 1 & 2 Public Safety Scuba Safety, Hyperberic Medicine Course, Certified SAT Diver, Emergency Medical Technician Paramedic.

Jim Flagg - Biographical Sketch

As the Eco Rigs representative to the SCUBA Industry, Jim Flagg brings 55 years of scuba diving experience, a university education in geology and experience as an oilfield roughneck working on offshore drilling platforms and landbased operations.  For 25 years Jim Flagg worked in the SCUBA Industry as a sales and tech rep and diving instructor.  He wrote many technical and travel articles for various publications and he was the VIDEO EDITOR for a major Dive Industry magazine.  Jim won awards for his Photography and Videography skills.  Plus, he was a championship winning motorcycle and ski racer.

 

Members of EcoRigs have researched the utilization of retired platforms for up to 21 years and led in the effort to utilize expired structures for sustainable fisheries and renewable energy. Kolian and Sammarco were invited to testify before the Congressional House Sub-Committee on Natural Resources and Energy on the biological resources present on offshore platforms. They also testified before the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, the Pew Oceans Commission and the Louisiana Recovery Authority.   Mr. Kolian advised and managed the Louisiana Platforms for Mariculture Task Force.  Mr. Kolian was instrumental in the drafting Section 388 of the Energy Policy Act (EPAct) of 2005 (Public Law [PL] 109-58) which authorizes the use of Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) facilities (offshore platforms) for alternate uses. On June 29th 2009, the Obama Administration and Minerals Management Service (MMS) implemented the “Renewable Energy and Alternate Uses of Existing Facilities on the Outer Continental Shelf” program (30 CFR 285.1000 Subpart J). Mr. Kolian was instrumental in the creation of the “Rigs to Reefs Act” which has appeared in eight House Resolutions.

Research 

We will support research into platform ecology by providing video footage to interested investigators. The videos illustrate that reef fish mate, spawn, feed, nest, and grow to maturity on oil and gas platforms. Observations suggest that platforms function as orientation sites on the migratory routes of coastal fish. It’s evident that platforms are Endangered Species Habitat for sea turtles which feed and rest on them.  Millions of Scleratinian corals, octocorals, gorgonians and hydrozoians attach to the platforms.  The research possibilities are expansive and if individuals or parties are interested in pursuing this line of study.  If interested, please contact Steve Kolian of EcoRigs at the numbers below.  

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Contact Steve Kolian  225-910-0304 or stevekolian@hotmail.com for questions about the utilization and preservation of retired platforms. 

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Essential Fish Habitat  | Endangered Species HabitatFederally Managed SpeciesCoral HabitatLive RockSchooling FishAttraction vs. Production

References:

Bohnsack, J.A, Sutherland, D. 1985. Artificial reef research: a review with recommendations for future priorities. Bulletin of Marine Science, 37(1): 11-39, 1985

Bohnsack, J.A. 1989. Are high densities of fishes at artificial reefs the result of habitat limitation or behavioral preference? Bull. Mar. Sci. 44: 631-645.

Bohnsack, J.A., A.M. Eklund, and A.M. Szmant. 1997. Artificial reef research: Is there more than the attraction-production issue? Fisheries 22(4): 14-16.

Bohnsack, J.A., D.E. Harper, D.B. McClellan, and M. Hulsbeck. 1994. Effects of reef size on colonization and assemblage structure of fishes at artificial reefs off southeastern Florida, U.S.A. Bull. Mar. Sci. 55: 796-823.

NRC 1996. National Research Council: An Assessment of techniques for removing offshore structures. By Committee on Techniques for Removing Fixed Offshore Structures. National Academy Press, Washington D.C.

Stanley, D., Wilson, C. 2000. Variation in the density and species composition of fishes associated with three petroleum platforms using dual beam hydroacoustics. Fisheries Research 47 (2000) 161-172.

WNI Inc. 1999. Feasibility Study-Offshore Mariculture, Waldemar International Report Inc. The report was funded through a cooperative agreement with NOAA. Award No. NA77FL0150