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Charles warns of over-fishing 'Catastrophe'

By Laura Elston
Press Association

The Scotsman

6th December 2004

The Prince of Wales called today for urgent action to halt the damaging impact of over-fishing.

Charles argued that the problem will be a “major global catastrophe for the world’s growing population” if it is not tackled in time.

His comments in a piece for the Daily Telegraph came prior to the publication of a two-year study by the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution (RCEP) into the environmental effects of marine fisheries.

According to the newspaper, the report will call for an examination of the implications of Food Standards Agency advice that people should eat two portions of fish a week.

Sixty recommendations for “radical change” to Government policy are expected to be unveiled.

The Prince wrote: “We have now reached the stage where we simply cannot ignore the need to take effective long-term action to protect the environment that sustains our fisheries.”

He maintained that the over-fishing and its consequences were man-made problems and that “this generation owes it to the future to tackle them before it is all too late”.

He described how “hundreds of dead dolphins and porpoises” with “broken beaks and appalling wounds” were being washed on to beaches each year after being caught in huge bass nets in the English Channel.

Warning that 75% of the world’s fish stocks were either fully exploited or over-fished, he added: “There’s little time left to halt what will be a major global catastrophe for the world’s growing population.”

Charles also called for the establishment of areas where fishing is banned to help the seas recover.

“On land, we have Environmentally Sensitive Areas to protect our most sensitive landscapes and wildlife,” he wrote.

“I have for so long wondered why on earth we cannot do the same for our marine environment.”

According to the Food Standards Agency, everyone should eat at least two 140g portions of fish a week, including one portion of oily fish.

A spokesman for the RCEP declined to discuss the forthcoming report, which will be published tomorrow.