Prince Charles calls for 'blue economy' to rescue Great Barrier Reef

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Britain's Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall walk during a Ceremonial Welcome at Old Government House in Brisbane, Australia April 4, 2018. Reuters/Phil Noble

Prince Charles has called for the Great Barrier Reef to become a central aspect of the emerging concept of a sustainable “blue economy,” which seeks to harness the world's oceans for economic growth. The royal said that the reef is one of the world's greatest tourist attractions and one of its most important ecosystems.

Britain's heir to the throne made the call as he prepared to visit Queensland's Lady Elliot Island, a coral cay situated at the southern tip of the largest coral reef in the world. The avid environmentalist added that the effects of the combined effects of climate change and coral-bleaching mean that the world has reached a "crossroads" in its ability to protect the Great Barrier Reef and others.

"I have no doubt in my mind that this will need to be a central aspect of the rapidly emerging concept of a sustainable blue economy, through which sustainable economic development is achieved via the wise use of ocean resources," the prince told The Australian Financial Review. The news organisation published the interview with Charles on Friday.

The royal also explained that within the blue economy, it would be helpful to think of coral reef ecosystems as natural capital assets that need the kind of prudent and wise management that will yield dividends long into the future. Charles also called on governments, businesses, non-government groups and development community to share ideas for sustainable investments for coral reef health. Coral reefs are home to about 25 percent of ocean life.

The prince previously delivered a speech warning that coral reefs are being threatened by global warming as well as by coastal developments, destructive fishing and over-fishing. Destructive fishing involves explosives or other substances.

Charles is expected to attend a roundtable discussion on Lady Elliot Island as an opportunity to discuss many of these issues. He will also make a visit to Bundaberg's famous rum distillery joined by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and some locals at a community barbecue, ​the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

Charles and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, arrived in Queensland on Wednesday. The prince opened the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.

Camilla will reportedly spend the day in Brisbane at King George Square. She will meet with members of charity groups and will proceed to a Women of the World event at the Powerhouse.