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October 05, 2017 10:29 AM

Longtime environmentalist Prince Charles is speaking out on the importance of protecting our oceans. And he got up close and personal with one of the world’s most ancient creatures during a visit to Golden Bay, Malta, on Thursday to oversee the release of rehabilitated sea turtles back into the ocean.

The royal escorted Tomasina the Turtle onto the sand as the adorable creature made his way back home.

He also made a passionate speech at the Our Oceans 2017 conference on Thursday, warning against the devastating impact plastics are having on marine life.

Prince Charles, 68, outlined his hope for “bold action” to be taken to halt the decimation of marine life by climate change and the pollution of the seas with human-made debris.

Clarence House/Twitter

He highlighted the vast quantity of waste material — especially plastic — in the seas and in our food chain.

“As many of you know so well, the eight million tons of plastic that enter the sea every year — through our own doing I might add — is now almost ubiquitous.”

“As the Prime Minister (of Malta) said, for all the plastic that we have produced since the 1950s that has ended up in the ocean is still with us in one form or another, so that wherever you swim there are particles of plastic near you and we are very close to reaching the point when whatever wild-caught fish you eat will contain plastic. Plastic is indeed now on the menu!”

Charles also launched a new Blue Economy Initiative during his keynote speech at the conference. The initiative, which links the Prince’s International Sustainability Unit (ISU) and the World Resources Institute (WRI), aims to build ocean resilience and encourage investments and policies to support sustainable development in the seas.

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Charles has campaigned on environmental issues for decades – often ahead of the mainstream. But he recognized that while preserving life on land has been accepted, it was only recently that people had addressed the stresses affecting the seas around the world. And there was much to be done.

“While we should be relieved that the health of the ocean is now understood, alongside rainforests, to be one of the essential prerequisites for our physical and economic survival, and I’m afraid I really do wonder if the ocean’s fragility is yet truly grasped and how susceptible it is to the impacts of our economic activities?” he asked.

Charles, who is in Malta for a two-day visit, also thanked fellow royal and environmentalist, Prince Albert of Monaco, for his leading role “to stimulate and encourage genuine movement on these issues.” Albert recently criticized President Donald Trump  for withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, a key international measure aimed at fighting global warming. The two princes have convened to discuss the future of the Blue Economy.

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