The role of fishermen and other stakeholders in the North Sea rigs-to-reefs debate

Mark Baine, Jon Side

    Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review

    3 Citations (Scopus)


    The North Sea rigs-to-reefs debate has moved forward with the formation of a multi-stakeholder steering group that oversees the development of independent research. Despite the sharp division that exists in stakeholder opinion, particularly related to whether or not such a concept constitutes an act of dumping, there now exists a proactive approach to assessing the need and potential for the formation of reefs using redundant oil and gas platforms. One influential stakeholder, Greenpeace, however, has distanced itself from the process. Liability, loss of access, and safety are of particular concern to fishermen when examining calls for offshore and nearshore reefs. The fishing industry remains unconvinced of the benefits of inshore reefs but maintains an open mind. It remains, however, committed in opposition to offshore reef creation, even more so when suggested in combination with a no fishing policy. The environmental pressure group Greenpeace is opposed to any rigs-to-reefs initiative, seeing this as a means by which offshore operators can circumvent the Oslo and Paris Commission's (OSPAR) Decision 98/3, which calls for complete removal of offshore installations. The importance of cost and the existence of willing reef beneficiaries are highlighted as important to the acceptance and success of a nearshore rigs-to-reefs venture. The creation of offshore reefs faces numerous political hurdles. The importance of a genuine stakeholder dialogue process to integrate scientific and political thinking and to avoid the re-occurrence of an event similar to the Brent Spar is stressed. The paper concludes that fishermen hold the key to the success of rigs-to-reefs ventures in the North Sea and that their cooperation and participation is essential for the promotion and success of the concept. © Copyright by the American Fisheries Society 2003.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-14
    Number of pages14
    JournalAmerican Fisheries Society Symposium
    Issue number36
    Publication statusPublished - 2003


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