Prince warns of threat to global food security and issues joint declaration
May 08 2012 Lewis Smith
Failure to protect fish supplies from over-exploitation will threaten global food security and potentially spark wars, the Prince of Wales has warned.
Overfishing has emptied the seas of fish so dramatically that he food supplies for millions of people around the world, are under threat.
Prince Charles, speaking at the World Fisheries Congress in Edinburgh in the UK, warned that a huge economic and human price will be paid unless there is international action to reverse the decline of fisheries.
His International Sustainability Unit has now launched a joint declaration with 120 other organisations demanding international action to protect marine fisheries.
The Joint Declaration for Action on Wild Marine Fisheries notes that about a third of fisheries have collapsed or are in decline and that their restoration is both vital and possible.
It states: “Fisheries must be managed at levels of fishing effort consistent with long-term sustainable yields, in accordance with sound scientific advice.
“Sustainable fisheries are profitable fisheries in which good management is rewarded by good livelihoods, dignified employment and strong communities. That is why sound economics must underpin sustainable fishing. Sound economics must create positive incentives for robust management so as to achieve long-term sustainability while at the same time making short-term unsustainable practices less attractive.”
Signatories include supermarkets, fish suppliers, wildlife and conservations groups, and fishermen’s groups. Among them are the Blue Water Fishermen’s Association, Clipper Seafoods, the IUCN, and the World Wildlife Fund.
In his speech in Edinburgh the prince emphasised the importance of food security: “If fish stocks fail, then the social and economic consequences will be dire,” he said. “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? How would escalating conflict over scarce resources be contained? These questions alone must surely concentrate our minds.
“With fewer fish, not only are export earnings dented, food security becomes a real issue too. One recent study concluded that if fisheries had not been so over-exploited in recent decades, then in 2000 approximately twenty million people could have avoided malnourishment. That was twelve years ago and I fear that if that number was recalculated for today it would be even bigger.”
Prince Charles highlighted a lack of knowledge about fish stocks as one of the key obstacles to improving them. Only 10 per cent of the world’s fisheries, he said, have been scientifically assessed on their health and size.
He told the Congress: “We need much better information and therefore better methods of collecting the data so that we can take the right steps to ensure stocks remain healthy in the long term. With good information we will be better able to take more informed decisions and manage the risks more effectively.”
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