Paris' publication of a 2006 article by Monaco's Prince Albert II has renewed interest in his work as an ocean conservationist after French and British researchers said they can't find enough evidence to prove he's really worried about climate change.
But the article does have a personal message: Whether Prince Albert II turns out to be an environmentalist, friend to the planet or both, he points out that life in the oceans as a whole is still a family business.
Caribbean Prince Albert II, by age 9 he already had become involved in ocean conservation efforts, and a family tradition went along with his work as Monaco's vice-president and chairman of the Forum for Sustainable Development, the trade group for some of the world's largest ports.
A former nature reserve in Monaco and its surrounding waterways, with a network of more than 400 channels to protect fish and make fishing easier, had been instrumental in developing mangroves in Trinidad that protect the islands' water resources, the article says.
Prince Albert II knew the islands depended on fishing, but was "guarded against a particular view of paradise that the people here had taken for granted," the article says. "He looked at it as a family heritage, a way of life."
As of the summer of 1998, the son of the late king of Monaco had been involved in conservation efforts for more than 25 years and during that time helped negotiate an international deal to protect the Labadee mangroves in the Caribbean's Haiti Swamp system.
The deal "exposed the strong links between climate change and the ecosystem of Guyana, (Caribbean) where Labadee is located," according to the article.
Now, as king of Monaco, Prince Albert II has taken a front-row seat for Oceanographer Helen Clark of New Zealand, a friend of almost 20 years. When she became the United Nations secretary-general in 2006, the prince was invited to help her start an independent commission "to look at the way we are handling the problem of climate change and ocean health," the article says.
The commission, or OCEAN, started by a private initiative called Plugs and Pointers, "carried out a number of surveys ... around the world. It finally came to the conclusion that the seas were like family trees, of which they were tiny segments. They have the kind of continuity you find in family trees."
Fish stocks are "rebounding" in parts of the world, but "we’re making gains in parts of the oceans, but we’re making little gains," Prince Albert II told the New York Times in November in the course of collecting data at the Atlantique Reef off Trinidad and Tobago.
"There’s a 50-year narrative of oceans and rivers," he said, and the oceans are losing biodiversity at the rate of 1 million square kilometers every year.
"This is something the future generation will have to deal with, and, it’s nature. It’s an evolutionary process," he said. "We can’t predict the future with any accuracy."