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Like hydrothermal vents, cold seeps, from which methane and other gases emerge, form the home for unique life forms found nowhere else.
Four new species of this sort have just been discovered off the coast of Scotland – a large sea snail, a marine worm, the first of its kind to be found in the Atlantic, and two species of clam. Marine biologists might be excited at the discoveries and expect to find more, but these creatures are already under threat.
The potential problem is bottom trawling, a destructive fishing method that destroys everything in its path. It’s not just the cold seep species that are threatened. Other rare sea creatures in the vicinity would also be obliterated, including colonies of cold water corals, sea sponges and sea fans.
These sites need immediate protection from bottom trawling; otherwise species may disappear before they are even known to science.
Ask the Scottish government to protect all four sites that the International Convention on the Exploration of the Seas recommends be closed to bottom-contact fishing.
We the undersigned urge that you arrange to protect the four sites around the Rockall plateau that the International Convention on the Exploration of the Seas has recommended be closed to bottom-contact fishing.
Four new species have just been discovered around a cold seep in the area, and there are also populations of other extremely rare organisms in the vicinity. All of these species could, and most likely would, be obliterated were bottom trawling ever to take place in the area. Therefore, providing immediate protection for these vulnerable sites is a matter of urgency.
All marine ecosystems are vulnerable, and these habitats perhaps especially so, seeing as they contain organisms found in few or no other sites.
It would be tragic if we lost creatures before they are even known to science, so please take immediate preventative action.
Thank you for your attention.