Prince Charles in Malta: ‘the oceans need to be cleaned up’ plus rehabilitated turtle release

By Daniel Devane and Stephen Taylor

The Prince of Wales today continued his visit to Malta, and this morning addressed the Our Ocean Conference, as well as releasing a rehabilitated turtle into the sea.

Prince Charles was the key-note speaker at the fourth annual conference, which has an agenda that includes the need to clean up and protect the oceans; marine protected areas; sustainable fisheries; marine pollution; and climate change. The event aims to raise awareness of the ‘blue economy’ of the seas: the world’s oceans, which cover two-thirds of the planet, is the seventh biggest economy.

prince charles talks about the effects of plastic on our oceans (clarence house)

The future King revealed in his speech that there has been a positive effect of piracy on the east coast of Africa, saying it has created a fishing- free zone which has given time for marine life to recover.

He said, “A classic example of proof of all this is what’s been going on on the east coast of Africa, where off Somalia all this piracy has been going on. As a result, there hasn’t been any fishing there for the last 10 or 15 years and from that there has been a fantastic explosion of bigger and bigger fish, all along the coast, because there hasn’t been the fishing.”

“What you need to do is organise the fishing in a way that enables the fish, and everything the fish depend on, to survive in their eco-systems. It’s no good just letting people fish everywhere, with their bigger and bigger boats, with cleverer and cleverer technology to find and suck up every single last fish – that’s crazy, that’s not conversation, it’s madness.”

Also addressing the conference was the Prime Minister of hosts, Malta, Joseph Muscat, EU foreign affairs high commissioner Federica Mogherini and the EU’s Fisheries Commissioner, Karmenu Vella.

Other Royals joining the conference included Prince Albert II of Monaco and Queen Noor of Jordan, plus more than 40 ministers from over 100 countries, where it is hoped they will announce pledges to protect the sea.

The Queen’s eldest son also warned of the danger of plastics on the eco-system, saying it would eventually come back to harm humans, as waste material is found in fish. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation has published a report with the help of the World Economic Forum which claims that, alarmingly, by 2050, the world’s oceans will contain more plastics than fish, by weight.

Queen Noor (l) joins Prince Charles and Prince Albert of monaco (second right) at the ‘our ocean’ conference in matla (eu maritime and fish)

At a global Our Ocean summit, the Prince said: “The irreversible damage to the Great Barrier Reef is a “serious wake-up call” for nations, he said, and what is needed is a circular economy which allows plastics to be recovered, recycled and reused instead of created, used and then thrown away.

“The eight million tonnes of plastic that enter the sea every year – through our own doing I might add – is now almost ubiquitous.”

“For all the plastic that we have produced since the 1950s that has ended up in the ocean is still with us in one form or another, so that wherever you swim there are particles of plastic near you and we are very close to reaching the point when whatever wild-caught fish you eat will contain plastic!”

Earlier this year Henderson Island, an uninhabited coral atoll in the eastern South Pacific, made headlines after nearly 18 tonnes of plastic washed up on its shores.

“Plastic is indeed now on the menu,” Charles concluded.

A well-known and keen environmentalist, The Prince of Wales highlighted the commitment made by some of the world’s biggest brands to stop the devastating impact plastics are having on our oceans and urged consumers to match that commitment. Sky today pledged to remove all single-use plastics from its operations, products and supply chain by 2020 in a ‘major package of measures’.

In a passionate plea, Charles stated: “Surely we must take equally far-sighted steps to deal with plastic pollution or illegal and over exploitative fishing, or indeed ocean acidification, especially as our ability to fine-tune and accurately monitor implementation has been hugely enhanced by advances in satellite capability?”

In an interview with ITV News, the Royal said that he couldn’t look his grandchildren in the eye if he had sat back and done nothing to help protect the environment for future generations.

He said, “Why do you think I’ve been doing all of this for so long? It’s been 30, nearly 40, years.”

“It’s entirely because I worry about your grandchildren and everybody else’s grandchildren, as well as my own. It seemed to me I couldn’t possibly face my grandchildren or yours at the end of the day when we’d completely mucked up the whole of our environment.”

“And this planet on which we live and which sustains us, which is a miraculous living organism. It is a living thing, the planet. We have to manage it and look after it and respect it and then it will respect us. At the moment we are driving it insane. Everything gets angrier and more extreme, more violent, more impossible to cope with. As these recent disasters are showing!”

The 68-year-old heir to the throne later met with veterinarians from ‘Nature Trust Malta’, who work on the charity’s Turtle Rehabilitation programme. After a chat, Prince Charles picked up a turtle, carried it to the ocean, before gently releasing it into the wild.

Yesterday, Charles helped commemorate Malta receiving the George Cross from his grandfather, King George VI, for its bravery during the second world war.

prince charles released a rehabilitated turtle back into the sea in golden bay, valetta (clarence house)

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