‘Out of touch’ Prince Charles condemned for remarks on fish stocks

Prince Charles has come under fire from fishing leaders for suggesting the industry is not doing enough to prevent falling stocks, comparing the campaign to safeguard key species with his own battle to highlight climate change 20 years ago.

During a speech at a Marine Stewardship Council reception in London on Tuesday, he said science had shown that the fishing industry was facing a massive fall in stocks which would have a knock-on effect on feeding people in the world’s poorest countries, and the issue was being neglected.

Scottish fishing leaders condemned the prince’s comments, accusing him of ignoring the country’s efforts to conserve stocks, and said he should listen to experienced fishermen rather than scientists. Some have labelled it a classic case of a member of Royal Family putting their foot in it.

Shetland Fishermen’s Association chief executive Hansen Black said it was an instance of Prince Charles himself being out of touch, rather than the industry.

The prince told guests at the Clarence House function: “The science tells us very clearly that if we continue to fish without any care for the long-term sustainability of fish stocks, we will soon face a nightmare collapse in stocks and inevitable starvation among the world’s poorest people.

“So I think the debate about the marine environment is rather like that which surrounded climate change in the 1980s. Back then climate change was something about which a few people were trying very hard to make their voices heard, occasionally myself, but nobody wanted to listen.”

The prince said over the years he had tried to make speeches and hold seminars about the fishing problem, but again it had been difficult to get the attention of all kinds of people, including agencies, organisers and consumers. It was a case of the subject being “quite literally out of sight and out of mind,” he added.

Carol Macdonald, a member of the Cod Crusade which campaigned against quota cuts some years ago, said it was wrong to take advice from scientists. Good fish were being thrown back into the sea and only real scientists were the fishermen themselves.

Scottish Fishermen’s Federation chief executive Bertie Armstrong said the prince had used the occasion to issue a warning in general instead of using it to give the industry the encouragement that was absolutely justified.

Mr Black said: “I think that if Prince Charles thinks that people are ignoring the issues about fishing stocks then he is quite clearly miles out of touch with what’s going on.

“The Scottish industry and Shetland industry have taken massive steps towards rebuilding fishing stocks and it’s happening quite clearly. [The increase] of cod stocks is a result of the efforts put in by the industry. If he is taking that line then it’s him that’s out of touch with reality.”


Add Your Comment
  • John

    • July 16th, 2009 11:15

    Carol Macdonald said ‘it was wrong to take advice from scientists’, did she? I think she is suggesting our policy-makers should ignore the people who have no financial interest and listen only to those who do. That would be unacceptable if it were a planning decision and so should it be for any decision. That’s not how things should work if a fair outcome is required.

    The fishing industry can stand up for itself, but the young and the unborn cannot. So I don’t see it as a bad thing when someone else speaks on their behalf. Charlie is an easy target, but he has nothing to gain by speaking out on this, so he must be doing so for the right reasons.

  • Bill

    • July 16th, 2009 17:24

    John – I think you need to rethink that the scientists have no financial interests. They get their grants from a government that has a desire to see one sort of outcome. I plainly know about this because I’m an industrial research scientist who doesn’t depend on the umbilical cord of government grant. I don’t need to publish, but my peers in academia do and they better toe the party line. Namely, it is desirable to see a curtail to fishing. It is desirable to see a curtail of economic activity in the name of global warming. It is no different in the states. If a scientists wants grant money to study something, it better be consistent with the government party line or else no money. I place much more weight on the fishermen themselves because if the stock dries up, there won’t be a livelihood left for them. Charles has been known to be quite liberal in his views and why not? He has no stake in it. He gets his allowance from the subjects of the UK. He hasn’t ever worked a day in his life. So, he can get by. When there is someone who speaks like that, I know never to pay attention to his views.

  • Brian

    • July 16th, 2009 18:31

    John, do you think the fishing industry has a financial incentive to crash their source of income? No, they don’t. They understand that their long-term interest is to protect their source of income, and that means what the lady in the article said: throw back good fish so that they can reproduce.

    It’s like the timber industry here in the states. They have zero interest in cutting down every tree without planting more. For every tree they cut down, they plant many more, ensuring that the stock is always there. The fishing industry is doing, basically, the same thing.

    Charles is in a position where he has no power and he just wants people to listen to him. He’s not King, just Prince of Wales, and he wants people to take him seriously, which they won’t do until his mother dies. So he tries to be important and relevant, and he sees Hollywood types and Al Gore pushing this climate change nonsense and decides to get on board.

  • jose

    • July 16th, 2009 18:32

    Yes, the fisermen, who depend on being able to fish as much as possible for their livelyhood would certainly be more honest about the issue than biologists who are tagging and actually studying fish populations.

  • Ian

    • July 16th, 2009 19:14

    It would seem it is Carol Macdonald who out of touch with reality. If fishing stocks have grown then it is because the Fishing industry has been forced to take action against its will. Carol sounds like a city banker ignoring the obvious problems that are in the future to make a bit more money now, it’s greed simple greed.

  • colin syme

    • July 16th, 2009 23:27

    l have been a recreational angler for nearly 60years and l fully support Prince Charles, he does know what he is talking about. When l was young cod were everwhere and we used to catch herring from our local pier, nowdays the only herring come from miles away and cod are becoming a rarity, a 10lb cod is a monster nowdays.

    What is worrying is that they are decimating mackerel in the north of Scotland and that fish which every dad teaches his kids to catch may soon be a memory. The only people in denial are those with vested interests (short term) and we all know that when the fishing stocks are gone they will take their compensation and lay off their workers.

  • ErnestPayne

    • July 17th, 2009 0:44

    Congratulations to Charles for being willing to take the problem directly to the fisherman.

  • Lindsay

    • July 18th, 2009 2:08

    Congratulations for banning Canada’s seal hunt. More seals, less fish.


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