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US Government Mandated "Destruction" of Marine Ecosystems

Discussion in 'Good Causes, Petitions and Solicitations' started by mrfish87, Aug 6, 2005.

  1. mrfish87

    mrfish87 Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Slidell, LA
    121
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    Through an old mandate the US Government is destroying thriving marine ecosystems in the upper Gulf of Mexico. Though ugly on the surface, oil rigs are beautiful beneath the waves. Each year many of these platforms are removed by either explosives or cutting and with that removal go several thriving "coral reefs" each year. If this were happening to reefs off other areas the entire would would be in a uproar. But these rigs are removed but an outdated government memo tells the oil companies they have to. Thousands of animals call the rigs home, including many endangered species, yet they are continually destroying their homes. Help us save our rigs. We need to get the word out to every congressman. Visit the website and see for yourself.
    http://towersoflife.com/ecorigs/index.html
     
  2. Cap335

    Cap335 Dive Shop

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Houston
    465
    237
    43
    A lot of these reefs are being saved by the rigs to reef programs but if the MMS allowed these structures to stay they would rot away and become hazards. I stopped at a rig last weekend out of Freeport that all of the grating from the boat landing up to the production level including the stairs had already rotted away. This is what would happen if you just left the platforms standing. Also someone needs to maintain the nav-aid equipment that is required on these structures.
    As long as Rigs to Reefs is allowed to cut the platform instead of blowing it up you maintain alot of the habitat.

    Randy
     
  3. Bill51

    Bill51 Instructor, Scuba

    1,174
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    I haven’t been involved in this directly, but I did run across some discussion of it a few years back. From what I understood the government wasn’t actively forcing the rigs to be removed, but they refused to accept the liability for rigs that were left. Some companies were trying to donate the rigs to the government much as a developer might donate land for a park, but the government determined the civil and criminal liability was too high to take over so the companies removed the rigs.

    It might be interesting if a non-profit group could take them over and assume some limited liability.
     
  4. drbill

    drbill The Lorax for the Kelp Forest Scuba Legend

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: Santa Catalina Island, CA
    22,483
    5,394
    113
    I'm one who thinks the rigs to wrecks program may not be an ecologically wise one. While it saves the oil company tons of money (like they need it!), and some of that money goes into ecosystem restoration and protection, I think the habitats rigs create are artificial ones and have a subset of what might normally be found on a natural habitat in the same location.

    Of course there are those rock scallop lovers here in CA that would beg to differ with me!
     
  5. Cap335

    Cap335 Dive Shop

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Houston
    465
    237
    43
    Unfortunatly most of our bottom is flat mud and just doesn't hold much if any life so these structures do form a good miniture ecosystem on there own. There is still alot of area out here where for whatever reason there are large areas of just natural mud bottom.

    Randy
     
  6. Cap335

    Cap335 Dive Shop

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Houston
    465
    237
    43
    This was probably a push that went on a few years ago to get NOAA to take HI398. 398 is the closest platform to the Flower Gardens and is frequently used to stage research divers from. This would have required a change in the law and your right the gov. just didn't want the responsibility.

    Randy
     
  7. jbilicska

    jbilicska Barracuda

    288
    4
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    Thanks for the link. I think it's a great idea to try to save the platforms. Maybe we could persuade the Gov't to go along with it.
     
  8. FredT

    FredT Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: The remains of the MS Gulf coast
    1,507
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    The requirement for removal was written into the leases due to extreme lobbying by the environmental (reefhugger) forces, and the recreational and commercial fisheries folks, at the time the leases were written. Now the same folks are whinig because they are beng removed. All things have unintended consequences, and this is a perfect example. The reefhuggers saw oil rigs as monstrosities, then they turned into oasis of life in a barren mudscape. Now they want them to stay...

    Offshore oil production has an amazing environmental record. Even the "monstrous" '68 blowout off of a SB channel rig eventually was found to have had the effects of a forest fire burn in renewing the species diversity of the area by removing the "climax forest" present off the coast at the time. Granted that wasn't the point of the spill, but it was the result. It just took 10 years and a congressional investigation to get a PHD from UCSB to own up to it, and ruin his meal ticket 6 figure grant/contract to "monitor the recovery".

    In cases of deep water rigs they can often be cut at a control depth beyond the reach of shipping, leaving many hundreds of feet of good structure in place. Shallow water rigs can often be cut up and sunk in place, or simply toppled once all holes are cemented in. Anyone who has dived the "stages" off of Pannama City Beach, FL has been on a toppled rig, just one that didn't have a hole drilled trhough the bottom. In any case the rig needs to be either marked, or below floating traffic. One effect of a toppled rig is that it gives the fish a relative safe haven from shrimper's nets. Those take an estimated 60 -80% of all juvenile red snapper produce by the breeders, depending on who's numbers you'll believe. The lowest number I've seen is about 50% with the highest being over 90% of all individual red snapper fry falling to the nets while they are still below the size fish excluders work on. A shrimper pulling past a toppled rig looses his net and rigging worth several thousand dollars, which tends to make them not fish there.

    FT
     
  9. archman

    archman Marine Scientist

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Florida
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    Doesn't hold much life?! That's my research habitat you're talkin' about. Some of the highest biological diversity on the planet is found in that stuff. Get a couple thousand feet deep, and it IS the highest biological diversity.

    Just 'cuz you can't see life, doesn't mean it isn't there. Soft sediment habitats are dominated by burrowers, often of very small size. They don't make a whole lot of National Geographic or Discovery Channel specials on soft sediment communities, so the public typically doesn't know much about them.

    With Gulf of Mexico oil rigs, they are of little ecological value. Most of the critters that live on the things are first-generation larval refugees. They cannot self-sustain without "fresh blood" brought in from the water column. This makes them functionally more like "outposts" than "oases".

    They function very well as fish aggregation devices (FAD's), however. Which is outstanding for scuba divers and fishermen. Recent NOAA ecological surveys in mid-lower shelf regions of the northern GoM have shown that natural FAD's are out there a'plenty, though. They're a bit deeper than most oil rig FAD's and inaccessible to most divers, but their presence greatly reduces the potential fisheries value for oil rigs that we theorized for them just a few years ago.
    http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/explorations/03mex/background/connectivity/connectivity.html

    After reviewing the towers of life website, I see that the natural hard bottom habitats found in the northern Gulf are heavily underdiscussed and undervalued. That's where a great deal of the "fish production" is coming from, not from other oil rigs. The "coral and sponges" section is totally not mentioning all the hard bank communities, and only really discusses the Flower Garden Banks. The remarks on the soft sediment bottoms were not written by someone who understands the ecology of those habitats. Anoxic? Who wrote that...

    Scientifically, I find little reason to maintain oil rig reefs. NOAA feels the same way. Current management focus is to try and preserve these newly surveyed hard bank areas, being ecologically of a heck of a lot more value. A few of these banks are being considered for reserve status. There's one near Stetson Bank that probably will be incorporated into the existing Sanctuary.

    For recreational purposes, I'm all for keeping a certain number of rig reefs around. The diving is spectacular. Keeping oil rig reefs around should not be much different than sinking ships for divers. Throw fishermen into the mix, and that's a small but notable economic incentive. Good for education, too.
     
  10. drbill

    drbill The Lorax for the Kelp Forest Scuba Legend

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: Santa Catalina Island, CA
    22,483
    5,394
    113
    Certainly agree with Archman's comments.

    I'm not interested in saving the oil companies money or reducing their liability. And yes, I drive a car... about 2,000 miles a year at high mpg.
     

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