Tens of thousands – hundreds of thousands, even – of rockfish, boccaccio, and lingcod congregate around the pillars of Southern California’s 27 offshore oil platforms, while shellfish cling to them in thick mats.
The platforms near the Channel Islands are among the world’s most productive hotspots for marine life, producing 27 times more total fish biomass than nearby natural rocky reefs, according to scientists, with rockfish making up 90 percent. From the surface, the platforms descend between 100 to 1,200 feet to the ocean floor; the height of the tallest is comparable to the Empire State Building.
Twenty-three of the platforms are in federal waters, and they are three to five decades old and in various states of operation and decommissioning. At least 10 are scheduled to be decommissioned by 2030, with the majority of the rest soon after.
With decommissioning, they would be removed, and the fish habitat erased.