New Curtin study shows fish swarm to decommissioned offshore oil and gas platforms in greater numbers than the world’s finest coral reefs.
New research led by Curtin University has found that the number of fish swimming near seven decommissioned offshore oil and gas platforms off Thailand was at least four times higher per unit area than some of the world’s most productive coral reefs.
The research, published in Frontiers in Marine Science, surveyed fish populations associated with seven platforms and five reference sites located about 150km offshore in the central Gulf of Thailand. Researchers used a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) fitted with an underwater stereo video system to quantify the abundance, size, biomass, and economic value of fish associated with the platforms.
Lead author Professor Euan Harvey, from Curtin University’s School of Molecular and Life Sciences, said: “Decommissioning of offshore oil and gas structures is either occurring or imminent in most regions of the world. Most jurisdictions require that offshore structures be removed for onshore disposal.
However, there is growing interest in understanding the ecological and socio-economic benefits of leaving structures in the water. In this study, we recorded 43 species of fish on the platforms and five reference sites with most fishes on platforms categorised as coral-reef or coral-reef-associated species. We estimated that the biomass of fish associated with the seven platforms was at least four times higher per unit area than some of the world’s most productive coral reefs.”