Prince: Failing to manage fish stocks ‘dire’ for industry

The Prince of Wales has warned of the dire social and economic consequences of failing to manage the world’s fish stocks sustainably.

Prince Charles spoke of the need to improve knowledge of marine ecosystems yesterday as he addressed the World Fisheries Congress in Edinburgh.

He established the International Sustainability Unit to build consensus on resolving some of the key environmental challenges facing the world. Its marine programme has looked at ways to manage fish stocks more sustainably to ensure there are more fish, more jobs and better economic returns.

Prince Charles told an audience at Edinburgh International Conference Centre there was a “direct link” between the health of ecosystems and food security.

“It is a serious social and economic issue,” he said. “If fish stocks fail, then the social and economic consequences will be dire. Just think of all those thousands of coastal communities in Africa and around the world whose livelihoods and futures depend on fish. Where will they go? What will they do?”

Prince Charles said there was a disparity between how much was known and how much should be known about the state of fish stocks.

“I am no expert, but it does seem to me that, under these circumstances, our chances of keeping stocks healthy, and oceans thriving so they can continue to maintain food security, are going to be severely compromised unless we dramatically, and I would suggest, rather urgently, improve our knowledge.”

He warned that even the tradition of fish and chips could disappear unless action is taken.

“I remember one occasion buying fish and chips from a shop in Inverness.

“It never occurred to me then that I was eating food that had such a reliance on how we treat a wild natural resource.”

The World Council of Fisheries aims to encourage and promote sustainable management practices, excellence in fisheries research and the wise use of fishery resources. The congress is held every four years, with the last one taking place in Yokohama in Japan in 2008.

Following his speech, the prince visited Marine Scotland’s research vessel Scotia in Leith harbour. He viewed the facilities on board and met fish and chip fryers and representatives from leading fish wholesale companies.

Speaking at the conference, he said he was “delighted that some pioneering fish and chip shop owners are making the connection” between how fish was harvested and how much would be left in the ocean to catch next time.

“The simple fact is that fish and chip shops rely on there being plenty more fish in the sea, and that is only going to be the case if we take care of fish stocks now and plan for them to be there long into the future.

“If their businesses are to remain viable in the long-term, fisheries management, accompanied by sound science, really matters to them too.”

— Press Association


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