A Ventura-based research firm has received $753,005 from the U.S. Department of the Interior to study whether offshore oil platforms along the California coast are drawing fish away from their natural environment.
Marine Research Specialists is leading a team of 30 marine scientists in a 12-month study of the waters around Platform Hidalgo, a Chevron-operated oil rig south of Point Conception.
The researchers will try to determine whether the platform attracts rock fish, a commercially important species of fish, away from nearby reefs, said project manager Eiji Imamura.
“It’s long been suspected that when you install an oil platform, you create an artificial reef that draws a large population of fish,” said Imamura, president of Marine Research Specialists.
Scientists will also study the effects of oil seepage on fish near drilling platforms. Although Platform Hidalgo does not produce oil, the scientists will compare rock fish in the area with fish in waters with oil seepage, Imamura said.