The Gulf of Mexico lack natural reefs. Not long after platforms first appeared in the Gulf, fishermen found that they caught more fish near platforms. Subsequent research found that the platforms act as artificial reefs, attracting and enhancing fish populations.
As offshore platforms reach the end of their useful lives, fishermen and marine biologists expressed concern about the loss of the enhanced fish habitat they create. Until the mid-1980s, platforms had to be completely removed at the end of their productive life, disrupting the thriving communities that had been created beneath the platform. In 1986, the National Marine Fisheries Service developed a plan for the creation of artificial reefs. Following up on the concerns expressed, the MMS (now known as BOEMRE) adopted a rigs-to-reefs policy that supports and encourages the reuse of these structures in the development of artificial reefs.
The rigs-to-reefs program provides benefits for the marine environment by enhancing fish habitat, for the State by enhancing recreational and commercial fishing, and for producing companies through cost savings and beneficial reuse of platforms that otherwise would become scrap metal and material.
For more information on rigs-to-reef programs: