Discovery of gas vent leads to fishing ban around Rockall Island

A fishing ban has been proposed for the Scottish island of Rockall following the find of a unique gas vent that was in the seabed. In addition, two new species of shellfish were also found in the same immediate area.

The methane that is leaking out of a ‘cold seep’ vent was discovered by British scientists that were working for Marine Scotland. It is the only gas vent of its type to be found in UK waters and is only the third gas vent at all to be discovered in the north east Atlantic Ocean.

The gas vent was discovered when the survey shop of Marine Scotland trawled up two new species of clam that they found have a significant relationship with the presence of methane in the water. The clams eat bacteria that is only found near a gas source. This intrigued them so they took a closer look at the seafloor to see if there might be a more extensive ecosystem in place.

Maine Scotland scientist, Francis Neat, stated that the site was found about near Rockall Island about four miles to the west and is closely related to habitats that often are formed near mineral rich vents that exist on the edge of mid-ocean ridges.

The clams also had a tight group of polychaete worms inside of them that are also expected to be new species that have not yet been identified by scientists.

Following the discovery the International Convention on the Exploration of the Seas has recommended a ban on North Atlantic fishing near the site and has also requested more fishing bans to go into place at three other sides in the Rockall region in an attempt to protect sea fans, sea sponge colonies, and cold water coral.