The northwest Gulf of Mexico is home to 3,800 oil and gas platforms (see Map of Platforms). They produce one of the most prolific ecosystems, by area, on the planet. Stanley and Wilson (2000) reported that 10,000-30,000 adult fish reside around the platform in an area about half the size of a football field.  Many blue-water platforms create complex coral reef ecosystems, comprised of Caribbean flora and fauna that would otherwise not exist on thousands of square miles of generally featureless and silty continental shelf. These platforms clearly produce fish rather than merely attract fish. Over 50 species of federally managed fish, crustaceans, and invertebrates settle and forage around the offshore structures. The Gulf of Mexico will lose a third of its 3,800 offshore oil and gas platforms in the next 5 years. It is estimated that the removal of 1,250 platforms will destroy 1,800 acres of coral reef habitat and 7 billion invertebrates, many of which are federally protected scleractinian corals, octocorals, hydrozoans and gorgonians.

The presence high-levels of BP oil and Corexit dispersant in the sediments, waters, seafood, and biota in the Gulf of Mexico indicate that populations of fish will be severely impaired for many years. We believe that saving offshore platforms from removal is the key to rehabilitating the fish populations in the Gulf of Mexico. By saving the offshore platforms, the fishing industry (commercial and recreational) could convert from predatory methods to sustainable fishing methods. The retired offshore platforms are an ideal foundation upon which to rebuild the fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico. A multitude of different fishery management operations could flourish on offshore platforms such as fish hatcheries, culture of marine invertebrates, harvest of ornamental fish, algae farms, culture of pharmaceutically valuable organisms, and many more.  Marine fish, difficult to grow inshore, could be raised on offshore platforms for stock-enhancement.  Retired offshore platforms can be used for alternate uses such as the sequestration of greenhouse gases and the production of renewable ocean energy derived from wind, current, wave, geo-thermal, salinity gradients, and bio-fuels and the production of hydrogen, (i.e. extraction of hydrogen from seawater via electrolysis). 

 

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