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Exclusive Interview: Fabien Cousteau On Saving The Oceans

We interview Fabien Cousteau, grandson of legendary Jacques Cousteau, on Saving the oceans and more

By Chere Di Boscio

For many, Jacques Cousteau was the quintessential ocean conservationist. The French explorer, filmmaker, scientist, photographer, author and researcher was fascinated by the sea and all its forms of life. He documented his many underwater adventures in a series of books, including The Silent World: A Story of Undersea Discovery and Adventure, published in 1953. He also directed films, most notably the documentary adaptation of the book, The Silent World. But most importantly, he brought awareness of the importance of ocean conservation to millions for the first time.

Today, his grandson, Fabien Cousteau, carries on the work of his famous ancestor. Amongst his many achievements, the younger Cousteau spent 31 days underwater from 1 June to 2 July in 2014, filming and collecting scientific data as a tribute to his grandfather. In doing so, he set the record for longest time underwater for a film crew, surpassing his grandfather’s 30 days set in 1963. In 2016, he founded the Fabien Cousteau Ocean Learning Center to educate the public on the importance of the oceans, and to help create positive change for the world.

He has recently partnered with watchmaker Seiko, who have pledged to donate a portion of all sales from its Prospex ‘Save the Ocean’ collection to Cousteau’s Ocean Learning Center.

Recently, Cousteau travelled to Fitzroy Island to scuba dive, snorkel and visit the island’s turtle rehabilitation centre.

“I am incredibly proud to carry on in the family legacy and to support the work that Seiko is doing to preserve the wildlife that depends on a healthy ocean environment,” he said.

Seiko’s Australian managing director, Mr Yukiaki Suganuma, said at a press conference: “Fabien challenges us all to look afresh at the marine world, and Seiko is proud to support his mission to expand the world’s knowledge of the importance of the health of the seas.”

“Throughout history, the people who changed the world have been those who think outside the box and take action,” Mr Suganuma continued. “Fabien’s undertaking aligns with our own quest as one of the world’s few fully integrated watch manufacturers, as well as our determination to help to restore the health of the planet for future generations.”

We had the chance to ask Fabien some questions in this short, but exclusive interview below.

Fabien Cousteau On Saving The Oceans

What exactly does the Ocean Learning Center teach?

The Ocean Learning Center has interactive programs in various locations that are meant to engage local communities to help restore their aquatic “backyard”. You can find out more about some of the programs and how to support us on our website.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing the oceans today?

Human beings are the biggest issue. The question is not so simple – when you take a deeper look, it seems one species has fundamentally affected our ocean by treating it like an endless resource and a garbage can since the Industrial Revolution. Long term effects related to climate change, gross mismanagement and abuse of fisheries, and the continuous unrelenting dumping of garbage spanning from plastic to nuclear waste into our life support system (the ocean) are crippling our planet’s ability to support our species (and many others) any longer.

Given the damage commercial fishing does to ecosystems, how important do you think it is for people to stop eating fish?

If only we could give our ocean a break it would tend to heal fairly quickly. The problem is not dissimilar to draining the capital of a savings account instead of living off the interest it bears. it is beyond time we invest in rebuilding our capital to our natural resource bank account. Marine Protected Areas are a vital part of this.

Where is the most beautiful place you’ve ever dived?

The most beautiful place I’ve gone diving is the place I tell no one about. Unfortunately, it’s the only way to ensure its long term health.

What is your favourite marine animal, and why?

The octopus. In my opinion it is such an amazing creature that would outsmart us if it lived any longer than 3-4 years. I’ve seen them problem solve and behave in ways that are just mesmerizing.

In which areas have you seen the most improvement, in terms of oceanic health?

We must protect/put off limits any activities to at least 30% of our ocean and properly manage the rest in order to fathom seeing a significant improvement in our lifetime. The areas that have most improved are those which we give a break to. The most improvement that I have seen would be in the Poor Knights National Marine Sanctuary in New Zealand, some of the US National Marine Sanctuaries, areas protected by local communities in various parts of the world (such as Malaysia, South Africa, Azores, Bahamas, Belize and more). These are just some examples of what can happen if we all pitch in to help.

If you had one wish for the oceans, what would it be?

I would wish that we would respect our ocean as if our lives depended on it… because it does. No ocean, no life: no healthy ocean, no healthy future.

Do you have much hope that we can save the oceans?

Yes. I believe in human beings and us making better decisions if we are given the opportunity to do so.

All images: Chris Pavlich

Chere Di Boscio

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