Curiously coinciding with Washington’s push to lift offshore oil
drilling bans, two new reports were released last week hailing oil
rigs as essential fish habitat – specifically for the over-fished
rockfish population. Researched by UCSB marine biologist Milton
Love and his colleagues, the reports estimated that there are at
least 430,000 baby rockfish living in and around the eight oil rigs
the divers surveyed – all of them in the Santa Barbara channel. The
news comes as part of the ongoing debate regarding the fate of oil
rigs once they stop pumping petroleum. As it stands now, the
financial burden of removing the massive steel structures falls on
the shoulders of the oil industry; the industry, along with other
organizations, has been lobbying in recent years to change the
rules. Supporters of rig removal, including the S.B.-based
Environmental Defense Center, are quick to point out that much of
the recently released research was funded by the organization CARE
– the California Artificial Reef Enhancement program – which is
dedicated to scientific research on unnatural reefs and receives
hefty financial support from oil companies.


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