Photo by Out of the Blue Photography Competition category winner Kamarulzaman Russali

The Prince of Wales has for a long time been a champion for the health and resilience of our ocean.  In 2010 His Royal Highness established the International Sustainability Unit (ISU) to facilitate consensus on some of the world's most intractable social and environmental issues. Since then the ISU's Marine Programme has focused on driving change towards sustainable 'blue' economies i.e where social and ecological resilience is at the heart of economic growth.

Our global ocean is the foundation of our prosperity and well-being – it produces more than half of the oxygen we breathe and absorbs around a third of the carbon dioxide we emit.  Marine and coastal ecosystems regulate water quality, attract tourism, protect cities and coastlines and provide employment and food security for hundreds of millions of people, including some of the poorest and most vulnerable communities in the world.  But these benefits are being lost through over-exploitation of natural assets, pollution, climate change and habitat destruction.  

In order to overcome these challenges the ISU has undertaken cutting edge research and consulted and convened hundreds of stakeholders from all over the world and from all different sectors: the fishing industry, policy-makers, scientists, NGOs, businesses and the finance sector.  Dialogue has focused on:

•how to effect and finance the transition to sustainable fisheries including through the establishment of Blue Bonds; 

•how to reduce the amount of plastic pollution in the ocean and create a pathway to a circular economy; 

•how to engage the fishing industry in a sustainable and profitable future;

•how to reduce seabird bycatch in global fisheries.  

By creating a narrative based on consensus, some of the solutions that are at hand can be moved forward through innovation, coordination and most importantly, collaboration. 

In the UK, The Prince of Wales, through the ISU, catalysed the establishment of a new independent, sustainability-focused charity that is run by fishermen, for fishermen, called Fishing into the Future.  His speech at a meeting convened by the ISU in 2013 in Brixham, Devon, can be found here.  For more information please visit their website: www.fishingintothefuture.co.uk.

Last year, The Prince launched the Out of the Blue Photography Competition, part of The Prince of Wales's Commonwealth Environmental Photography Awards, on World Oceans Day.  Thousands of people around the Commonwealth entered photos that depicted the value, beauty and importance of the marine environment.  To see the winning entries, please go to the competition's website: www.outofthebluecompetition.com.

For all of the ISU's reports and case studies please visit the ISU's website www.pcfisu.org/marine.