Prince Charles 'black spider' letters: Prince of Wales raised concerns over 'illegal fishing of the Patagonian Toothfish'

The bizarre exchange came in a memo to Defra minister in 2004

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One of the more bizarre exchanges in the Prince’s correspondence with ministers came in an October 2004 letter to Defra minister Elliot Morley, in which he raised concerns about the fate of the Patagonian Toothfish.

At the time, Mr Morley was chairing the High Seas Task Force, which had been set up to address the problem of illegal fishing. Charles described the efforts to “bring to heel” countries which sanctioned the practice as “enormously encouraging”.

He added: “I particularly hope that the illegal fishing of the Patagonian Toothfish will be high on your list of priorities because until that trade is stopped, there is little hope for the poor old albatross, for which I will continue to campaign.”

The Prince had been raising concerns about the plight of albatrosses for years, thousands of which were dying each year due to illegal fishing, Clarence House said. In his letter, he also asked whether the Royal Navy could be drafted in to help with efforts to tackle the problem, while admitting that such a suggestion may be “very ignorant”.

In a personal aside to Mr Morley, he added: “I know just what a personal commitment you have made to this issue and how deeply you feel about it. Let us hope…we can make a difference before it is all too late.”