There is increasing evidence that some California oil platforms form important habitats for a number of economically important fishes. We asked to what extent might platforms be important as producers of larvae of several overfished species (bocaccio, Sebastes paucispinis Ayres,
1854 and cowcod, Sebastes levis Eigenmann and Eigenmann, 1889) on a local or regional basis. We compared adult densities and potential larval production of these species at platforms and natural outcrops in California. Densities of mature bocaccio and cowcod were highly variable among
survey sites, but were generally very low at both natural reefs and platforms. However, the mean densities for both species were higher around platforms than at natural reefs. Two of the three platforms (Gail and Hidalgo) that harbored mature bocaccio had larger mature individuals than did
any natural reef. Platform Gail had by far the highest densities of both mature bocaccio and cowcod of any natural or human-made habitat and the potential larval production of both species at Platform Gail was much higher than at any other site surveyed. We estimated the removal of Platform
Gail would be the equivalent of removing 12.57 ha of average-producing natural habitat in southern California for cowcod or 29.24 ha of average-producing natural habitat for bocaccio. These results may have implications for the platform decommissioning process.
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