Abstract

US federal agencies must consult with the National Marine Fisheries Service on actions that may adversely affect “essential fish habitat” (EFH). This EFH mandate coincides with recent discussions on proposed decommissioning of oil and gas platforms in southern California. While many species falling under the Pacific Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (e.g. rockfish, genus Sebastes ) inhabit platforms, available information is insufficient for determining whether the structures are necessary to support a sustainable fishery or contribute to a healthy ecosystem, the two basic tenets of EFH. The occurrence of juvenile and large adult rockfish at some platforms suggests that they may support important ecological functions. Because rockfish show long-term population declines, further evaluation of platform ecological structure and function is warranted and should be integrated into the environmental review process. Published by Elsevier Science Ltd on behalf of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea .