With 3,203 of the 3,729 offshore oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico off her coast, Louisiana provides almost a third of North America's commercial fisheries. A study by LSU's sea grant college shows that 85 percent of Louisiana's offshore fishing trips target these structures. "Oil platforms as artificial reefs support fish densities 10 to 1000 times that of adjacent sand and mud bottom, and almost always exceed fish densities found at both adjacent artificial reefs of other types and natural hard bottom," says a study by Dr Bob Shipp, professor at the Marine Sciences department of the University of South Alabama in Mobile, Alabama, and currently, the vice-chair of the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council. "Evidence indicates that massive areas of the northwestern Gulf of Mexico were essentially empty of Red Snapper stocks for the first hundred years of the fishery. Subsequently, areas in the western Gulf have become the major source of red snapper, concurrent with the appearance of thousands of petroleum platforms."
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