Charles also says he wants consumers to buy “certified” products in a bid to help safeguard the world’s oceans.
In a major speech to the Our Ocean conference, Charles warns the decline in the health of waters across the globe is “dire” and the “consequences of inaction and ‘business as usual’ are unimaginable”.
The heir to the throne says in response to the “crisis” he hopes the summit will lead to a “global alliance” between the private, public and NGO sectors, and set out a series of solutions, from tackling, on a “massive scale”, plastic pollution to nations beginning to “increase, enforce and finance marine protection”.
The transition to sustainable energies also needs to be “fast-tracked and scaled-up” to combat the growing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and oceans where it leads to acidification which threatens coral reefs.
In a pre-recorded video speech, screened during the summit’s opening day on Wednesday, Charles says: “Second, by rewarding sustainable fishing practices, and penalising those that are not, we can incentivise better ocean management.
“As consumers, we should make ocean and land-friendly choices when we make our purchases. Selecting certified products is a good place to start – and this can increasingly be done through digital ID.”
Prince Charles Scott Heppell
Prince Charles and Camilla PETER NICHOLLS
Setting out the scale of the issue the prince adds: “Despite the essential role the ocean plays in maintaining harmony between nature, people and planet, human activity over the past several centuries has contributed to the rapid decline in ocean health, be it from global warming, unsustainable, unreported, unregulated and illegal fishing practices or pollution.
“No one knows this better than the world’s ‘large ocean states’ who are seeing the impact at first-hand. This situation is indeed dire. The consequences of inaction and ‘business as usual’ are unimaginable.”
The prince’s speech follows his address at the recent Cop26 UN climate change summit staged in Glasgow, when he said the world has had enough of talking and “we need to put our words and commitments into practice”.
Other speakers during the two-day summit will include former US President Barack Obama and the US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry.
Charles will also tell delegates the economic system is at the heart of the problem because “it is at odds and not in harmony with, nature’s own economy” but could be key to the solution if “re-targeted”.
He makes the case for investing in ocean habitats, adding: “Recent reports have demonstrated that for every dollar invested in Marine Protected Areas, there is a return of ten dollars. The economic case is clear.”
The conference is being hosted by America and Palau, an archipelago of more than 500 Pacific Ocean islands.
Commenting on the issue of pollution, Charles adds: “We have seen unequivocal evidence that plastics are not only polluting our waters but are entering our food chains and our bodies. We are quite literally poisoning ourselves.
“It seems obvious that we should be looking for natural alternatives to plastic and transitioning rapidly to these alternatives. In the meantime, we need to support the world’s innovators to scale up the removal of plastics from our ocean, waterways and landfills while strengthening recycling efforts and the more rapid development of the circular economy.”
The prince, who gave a speech in Malta during the 2017 Our Ocean summit, concludes with the words: “Ladies and gentlemen, the Ocean’s centrality on this planet as the largest reservoir of biodiversity and life demands our concerted attention and transformative action.
“I pray, therefore, that in response to the immense crisis we face, this summit can lead to a genuine global alliance between the private, public and NGO sectors.”