Prince Charles has called on leaders of big business to do all they can to help the ocean "heal itself".
The Prince of Wales, who made the plea during a visit to Australia's Great Barrier Reef, viewed coral and sea life from a glass-bottom boat and said it was imperative nature could be allowed to "restore" itself.
He added that unique ecosystems, such as those on the Great Barrier Reef, should be conserved before it is too late.
"It is not only important to conserve these vitally important ecosystems but we must allow nature to restore what has been lost," he said.
The Prince, who is passionate about conservation, convened a meeting of top businesses, including Qantas and the Walt Disney Company, as well as the Australian government.
The wife and children of the late wildlife expert Steve Irwin, nicknamed The Crocodile Hunter, also attended.
At the discussion on Lady Elliot Island they discussed the challenges faced by the world's reefs and looked at how the private sector may champion and invest in conservation.
The Prince went out on the boat in the highly protected Marine National Park Green Zone on the Great Barrier Reef following the 40-minute meeting.
The area is famed for manta rays, turtles, reef sharks, dolphins and humpback whales. Three turtles and a manta ray were spotted as he sailed by.
Prince Charles has been warning of the "irreversible effects" of climate change since 1968.
In an interview with the Australian Financial Review, the Prince said society was "truly at a crossroads" in its ability to protect the majority of the world's reefs.
He added: "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.
"Within the blue economy it would be helpful to think of coral reef ecosystems as natural capital assets, assets that require the kind of prudent and wise management that will yield dividends long into the future."