There are reasons for optimism about the future of the world’s fish stocks despite their currently dire state, said the Prince of Wales at the launch of a report from his green think-tank.
Fisheries in Transition details 50 case studies of successful management in various parts of the world.
The prince said the issue was dogged by a “debilitating fatalism”.
His International Sustainability Unit (ISU) is aiming to build constructive dialogue between industry and ecology.
The report is the first offering on fisheries from the ISU, which aims to continue the kind of work done by the Prince’s Rainforest Project on a larger range of issues.
Speaking at Fishmongers’ Hall in the City of London, the prince said it was “critically urgent” that countries find better ways of dealing with over-fishing and other marine issues.
“Oceans are becoming more acidic; run-off from industrialised farming is causing waters to become too rich in nutrient, thus creating dead zones in the oceans; waters are getting warmer, and more and more square miles of them are being polluted with plastic,” he said.
“The human assault on the Earth’s oceans is depressingly comprehensive.”
The prince, and other speakers at the launch, compared the fishing situation to the current banking crisis.
“Just as the banking system is a public good on which we all depend, so are sustainable fisheries,” said David Nussbaum, chief executive of WWF-UK.
“If fisheries collapse, who will bail out the oceans?”
Many scientific reports have highlighted the impacts of industrial fishing, which has reduced some species down to a few percent of their historical level.
And economists have pointed out that this has a significant economic penalty, with some stocks so depleted that commercial returns are way below what they should be.
A World Bank report several years ago said the global economy was losing about $50bn (