Launch of HRH the Prince of Wales ISU Marine Programme
London, 3 February 2012
HRH the Prince of Wales launched his International Sustainability Unit Marine Programme . Commissioner Damanaki has been invited to respond and addressed the need for reforming the EU Common Fisheries Policy, to meet the challenges identified by the Programme.
Also Adriana Giudice Alva (Chief Executive Officer, Austral group), David Nusbaum (Chief Executive, WWF UK), Elizabeth Thompson (Executive Coordinator of UNCSD Rio+20) and the UK Parliamentary Under Secretary for Natural Environment and Fisheries, Richard Benyon MP intervened at the event.
Your Highness, excellencies, honoured guests, ladies and gentlemen,
Let me say how deeply honoured I am to be here today and share with you this important launch event.
I'd like you to picture for a moment those sixteen-century English fishermen who reported from Newfoundland that cod were “so thick by the shore that we hardly have been able to row a boat through them”.
For centuries, we have been blind to the vulnerability of the sea. It didn’t matter how many fish we took out, we thought there were plenty more to replace them.
Now we know better.
The fishery off Newfoundland lasted till 1992, when fishing was stopped, because there were no cod left.
They have not returned.
His Royal Highness recently said that the ultimate source of our economic capital is Natural Capital; that we have been drawing on it’s capital without ever replenishing it.
I couldn’t agree more. We have eroded the Fish Capital at our disposal.
We urgently need to tackle a legacy of overfishing and discarding and that is why I have launched a fundamental reform of the EU fisheries policy.
We are going for a simpler, greener and more region-specific policy. We need to stop discarding.
Naturally we need to help fishermen in the transition. And we will do that. Most of all, I want us all to take the words of his Royal Highness to heart: We have to preserve our natural capital and we have to run the bank better.
This means rewarding responsible fishermen who switch to greener methods; helping them shift the focus away from heavy-impact fishing and onto smart and green activities, like marine tourism, sea cleaning and so on.
It also means that, as well as addressing issues within the fishing industry itself, we must educate the public. So, that all of us, as consumers, make responsible choices and it means learning to harvest nature's interest, leaving its capital intact.
Your Royal Highness, please allow me to express my sincere gratitude for all your valuable efforts, as the marine programme of the International Stability Unit. I can only applaud and support your immensely valuable initiative.
Change is possible, but the shift to a green economy requires a cocktail of innovative approaches that engage the public and private sectors at local, national and trans-boundary scales.
Your initiative, couldn’t come at a better time, and it is just what we need. It reassures me that we are thinking of the future and that we will one day use the sea sustainably.