Antarctica, a medal, and tuna

Prince Albert II in the United States.


This week Jean-Marc Nowak of the Club Alpin Monegasque (Monaco Alpine Club) was in town to give a talk about his expedition to climb Mount Vinson in Antarctica. On the other side of the Atlantic, Prince Albert II was in Washington to participate in the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Antarctic Treaty. While he was there, he spoke about the exemplary character of the treaty, which enables the management of a particularly sensitive zone for the benefit of science. He also highlighted the fundamental role that the scientific community must play to preserve the environment.

The Prince's own efforts in environmental preservation were rewarded with the Teddy Roosevelt Medal a month earlier in Washington. During the presentation, his actions on behalf of endangered species, notably the bluefin tuna, were praised. Unfortunately the campaign has suffered a setback, and the Principality once again stands alone in calling for a trade ban on the bluefin tuna. In spite of very public support shown by France and the UK in July, and the European Commission in September, one by one, the supporters have stepped down, and fishing continues to be limited by quotas.

At the heart of the problem lies bickering about just how urgent the situation is. Studies differ on the current level of bluefin tuna stock, although they all agree that there has been a rapid decrease and substantial overfishing. With no united voice from the scientific community, the fishing lobby shouts loudest, and protection for the tuna remains ineffective. The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) meeting in Brazil in November set the 2010 fishing quota at 13,500 tons.

In spite of the disappointment, Prince Albert II continues to champion environmental issues through the Fondation Prince Albert II (FPA2). During his most recent visit to America, the FPA2 and the Smithsonian Institution signed an agreement to exchange knowledge and collaborate on activities within their common domains of interest. A meeting also took place to establish a basis for cooperation between the FPA2 and the National Geographic Society.