3rd February 2012

The Prince of Wales says today that despite evidence about the continued decline of the world’s fish stocks there is real cause for optimism about the future of this vital resource.

Citing a new report published today by his International Sustainability Unit (ISU), The Prince says that if sustainable management of fisheries is applied more widely the long-term benefits will be seen in larger catches at sea, higher earnings, more secure jobs and healthier marine ecosystems.

However, His Royal Highness warns that if action is not taken now to significantly increase the sustainable management of fish stocks worldwide then the current alarming situation may become even more serious and, ultimately, irreversible.

While fisheries currently contribute approximately $274 billion to global GDP, the World Bank estimates that they could be worth as much as $50 billion more per year if they were better managed. Evidence of this capacity for recovery and growth is featured in the ISU’s report in the form of interviews with representatives from 50 fisheries around the world highlighting the benefits they are enjoying from managing their resource more sustainably. The ISU believes these successful examples can and must be replicated more widely

In a speech at Fishmongers’ Hall in London to mark the launch of the ISU’s Marine Programme, The Prince of Wales says that: “The story today need no longer be one of doom and gloom and inevitable decline, but one that harbours the possibility of generating more value from a strongly performing natural asset. This potential can only be tapped if we manage it well.”

The aim of the ISU’s Marine Programme is to build consensus globally on how the positive examples of sustainable fisheries management seen around the world can be replicated at scale.

The ISU’s new report – “Towards Global Sustainable Fisheries: The Opportunity for Transition” – is published today following two years of consultation with the public, private, scientific and NGO sectors. The report’s findings are shared by many influential figures in the fishing sector worldwide; more than 20 of them have joined a Fishing Industry Ambassadors group that the ISU has established.

During the course of its research the ISU identified three core principles that could be adopted more widely: managing fisheries in the context of the whole marine ecosystem; changing the economics of fishing through rewarding positive behaviour; and, regulating and enforcing the rules of fishing activities.

The ISU’s report also identifies various key steps that could be taken to achieve more sustainable management and ensure a resilient and plentiful supply of fish stocks for the future. These steps include: collecting better scientific data on fish stocks and the impact of fishing on marine ecosystems; identifying examples of sustainable fisheries management in order to encourage others to follow suit; developing new mechanisms to finance the wider adoption of sustainable fisheries management; and, involving the private sector more in supporting fisheries improvement projects.