The Prince of Wales is bringing together experts from the worlds of fishing and finance today to discuss ways to invest in the sustainability of the oceans. Representatives of government, the fishing industry, investors and leading conservation groups will gather at St James's Palace at an event titled Financing the Transition to a Sustainable 'Blue' Economy. 

Fisheries are a key component of the global ocean, or 'blue', economy. They contribute US$274 billion to global GDP, provide around 3 billion people with their main source of animal protein, and employ over 200 million people, the majority of whom are in developing countries. Global fisheries are under threat and a transition to a more sustainable management system is urgently required.

The meeting will reveal a report written by The Prince of Wales's International Sustainability Unit (ISU) and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) that outlines a framework for investing in the transition to more sustainable fisheries[1].  The ground-breaking research shows that there is a financial return to be had from the transition to a more sustainable management system if fisheries are structured as investable propositions. 

Real world examples show financial increases do not have to be at the expense of vital social and environmental benefits for local communities and for fish stocks. For example, in the Pacific Halibut fishery, sustainable management interventions led to over a 200% increase in revenues. Likewise, in the important clam fishery in Ben Tre Province in Vietnam, the value increased by almost 50%, increasing incomes and providing around 4,000 more jobs for local fishers.

The World Bank has estimated that, at a global level, some US$50 billion worth of additional value could be derived from the world’s fisheries each year, if they were managed in more sustainable ways. Progress toward realizing this lost value has been hampered, amongst other things, by a lack of investment in the natural and social capital that is the fundamental basis of the global fish economy. 

In a keynote speech The Prince of Wales will warmly congratulate all those present on the progress made towards solutions to the pressing challenges facing our oceans and fisheries.  He is expected to say "Economy and ecology do not have to be locked into an irreconcilable struggle......We know from many examples around the world that the transition towards sustainability can deliver a wide range of economic, social and ecological benefits.  The transition to sustainable fisheries, therefore, should be seen as a 'no regrets' investment.  It requires capital today to ensure that these benefits exist tomorrow."

Also present at the meeting is Fred Krupp, President of EDF: “Oceans are the single most important resource in human history,” he said “We have an opportunity to restore our oceans to abundance by putting new tools in place to spur public and private investment in fishing communities and sustainable fisheries. We must bring these tools to scale around the globe so that we can transform our oceans into a sustainable, enduring resource one that provides more fish in the sea, more food on the plate, and more economic prosperity.

The ISU has spent the last two years working with experts in finance and fisheries to determine how best such tools could work.

Amongst those organizations searching for ways to bring finance to the types of projects that the report hopes to catalyse is The Nature Conservancy.  “We are very focused on the critical need to find and deliver solutions that will help address complex marine issues, such as sustainable fishing, that sit at the intersection of development and marine conservation,” said Peter Wheeler, Executive Vice President at The Nature Conservancy. “We believe that financial innovation can play a key role in this effort and are therefore delighted to be a part of it. We are also pleased to announce that The Nature Conservancy, through its Nature Vest initiative, will offer over US$45million to support the structuring of investment in critical Marine Programs in the Indian Ocean and the Caribbean using Blue Bonds and similar commercial approaches.”

The meeting will provide a timely reminder of how investment in so-called natural capital can be an effective way of achieving not only economic goals but also social and environmental ones. By taking an integrated approach toward the management of financial risk on the one hand, and the management of ecosystems on the other, the meeting will highlight how returns can be generated at the same time as enhancing food security and protecting jobs and the marine environment for future generations.