Fabien Cousteau is an aquanaut, ocean conservationist and documentary filmmaker.
“People protect what they love, they love what they understand, and they understand what they are taught. I believe that we all need to be Ocean Witnesses, so that we can give back to our future generations what we have taken for granted.” Fabien Cousteau about the global responsibility to take care of the oceans.
A third generation ocean explorer, documentary filmmaker, voice for the oceans and grandson of the famous Jacques Cousteau. Meet our next Ocean Witness: Fabien Cousteau. After 28 years, Fabien returns to the place his grandfather called ‘an untouched piece of art’: Sipadan, Malaysia.
You come from a long line of ocean explorers, but what is your first memory of the ocean?
For as long as I can remember, I have been enamoured by the sea – my grandfather instilled this love for the ocean in me. My first memory of the ocean was on my 4th birthday when I got the chance to go scuba diving for the very first time. Since the age of 7, I’ve been on expeditions and have been blessed to witness beautiful places, cultures and interactions between the ocean and human beings.
What does the ocean mean to you? Is it still a very important part of your life today?
It’s a source of life, and a source of natural beauty – it constantly awes me. It is euphoria, it is beauty, it is all the things that we care about. Of course it also means a lot on very pragmatic levels such as economics, but to me the ocean is life. Without ocean, there is no life. The more we treat our oceans as an endless resource and a garbage can, the more we compromise our own future.
How do you see the ocean changing?
Development, pollution and bad fishing practices affect the oceans; for example rising temperatures and bleaching corals because of global warming. If we continue to treat the environment the way we do, the entire ecosystem will suffer and our very own livelihood as well. Climate change is worldwide, and we’ve just seen evidence of coral bleaching in these waters. Coral reefs are the undersea cities. Coral bleaching is a direct effect of human activity. Using way too many fossil fuels, ejecting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere which then also gets absorbed into the oceans. The direct result is dead and dying reefs.
As an Ocean Witness, what do you to have a positive impact on the oceans?
I’m a hopeful realist. I’ve seen a lot of devastation in my short life, but also a lot of positive action when people are given the right tools, the right empowerment, the right education and information. So that’s how I try to contribute; by educating people and creating awareness about what I witness in the oceans by creating documentary films, education content, beach clean ups and much more! Apart from that, the Ocean Learning Center also works on special ‘on the ground’ projects, such as restoring turtle populations and mangrove restoration.
If you can put yourself into the future and see the ocean in 2030, what does it look like?
If I were to imagine 2030 the way it should be, the way we are all working very hard to have it – it would be the way I remember it as a child. A place of pristine beauty, a place that gives us the opportunity to witness and experience the fireworks display of life that it should be.
How important is it to be an Ocean Witness and what would you say to other people who are like yourself?
As Ocean Witnesses around the world, we absolutely have a responsibility to bring back what we’ve seen, what we’ve heard, what we’ve felt and to use this as a network to bolster all the positive action that needs to happen. More than half a billion people across the world depend on the seas for their livelihoods.
“The oceans are living, breathing, ever-flowing into one another, so the damages spread. Thus, we need to work together, globally, as one. If we all did our part, I believe our oceans would thrive once again.”
Do you have a message to all the other witnesses like yourself out there?
Like my grandfather once said: ‘People protect what they love, they love what they understand, and they understand what they are taught.’ I believe that we all need to be ocean witnesses, so that we can give back to our future generations what we have taken for granted. We don’t want the ocean to be something future generations learn of as part of history. The oceans are living, breathing, ever-flowing into one another, so the damages spread. Thus, we need to work together, globally, as one. If we all did our part, I believe our oceans would thrive once again.
I am Fabien Cousteau, and I’m an Ocean Witness.
Fabien Cousteau is an aquanaut, ocean conservationist and documentary filmmaker. He founded the Fabien Cousteau Ocean Learning Center (OLC) in 2016, with which he fulfilled his dream of creating a vehicle for positive change in the world. OLC focuses on public awareness, education and special projects. In 1989 his grandfather, Jacques Cousteau, called Sipadan in Malaysia ‘an untouched piece of art’ and his film placed Sipadan on the global diving map. After 28 years and 3 generations later, Fabien follows his grandfather’s footsteps. This Ocean Witness video has been made in partnership with the Fabien Cousteau Ocean Learning Center.