Artificial Structures in the Gulf
The Gulf of Mexico is home to a large number of artificial structures resulting from oil extraction industry or intentional installation of materials for the purpose of attracting fish and other organisms. Oil rigs, by virtue of their three-dimensional structure, are known to harbor significant densities of important commercial species such as Red snapper (Gallaway et al. 2009), and may increase productivity by augmenting rates of recruitment and growth (Claisse et al. 2014). Because of the positive benefits to fishing and scuba diving industries that have been observed to result from installation of these structures, a number of decommissioned rigs have been converted to artificial reefs, which then become managed by the various state agencies (Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries 1987, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department). Various Gulf states have also been involved in the deployment of artificial reef structures for over a century, but did not begin reef-building programs in earnest until the 1980s, when various artificial reef management plans and funded programs were formed. The purpose of these plans was largely to create reef habitat in areas that were typically devoid, and thus improve local economies through increased opportunities for recreation.