Evidence for the effects of decommissioning man-made structures on marine ecosystems globally: a systematic map protocol

Background

Numerous man-made structures (MMS) have been installed in various parts of the ocean (e.g. oil and gas structures, offshore wind installations). Many are now at, or nearing, the end of their intended life. Currently, we only have a limited understanding of decommissioning effects. In many locations, such as the North Sea, regulations restrict decommissioning options to complete removal, with little consideration of alternative management options might offer. To generate a reliable evidence-base to inform the decision-making processes pertaining to marine MMS management, we propose a wide-encompassing systematic map of published research on the ecosystem effects (including ecosystem services) of marine MMS while in place and following cessation of operations (i.e. including effects of alternative decommissioning options). This map is undertaken as part of the UKRI DREAMS project which aims to develop a system to show the relative effects of implementing different decommissioning strategies in the North Sea.

Method

For the purpose of this map, we will keep our focus global, in order to subsequently draw comparisons between marine regions. The proposed map will aim to answer the following two primary questions: 1. What published evidence exists for the effects of marine man-made structures while in place on the marine ecosystem? 2. What published evidence exists for the effects of the decommissioning of marine man-made structures on the marine ecosystem?The map will follow the Collaboration for Environmental Evidence Guidelines and Standards for Evidence Synthesis in Environmental Management. Searches will be run primarily in English in at least 13 databases and 4 websites. Returns will be screened at title/abstract level and at full-text against pre-defined criteria. Relevant meta-data will be extracted for each study included. Results will be used to build a database of evidence, which will be made freely available. This map, expected to be large, will improve our knowledge of the available evidence for the ecosystem effects of MMS in the global marine environment. It will subsequently inform the production of multiple systematic-reviews and meta-analyses.

Keywords

Oil and gas, Offshore wind, Marine renewable energy, North sea, Synthesis, Repurposing, Management, Ecology

In progress