At the age of 4, when most of us are still babbling and barely making sense, Fabien Cousteau was already going diving. Sure, international diving organisations like PADI have a minimum age of 10 but Fabien had an exception: his grand father was Jacques-Yves Cousteau, the famed ocean explorer who was one of the inventors of the regulator or aqua-lung. The device enabled him and his fabled family to venture into the deep sea and create the first films of the underwater world, captivating audiences around the world. Jacques Cousteau made a mini-regulator for his grandson to feed his early curiosity of the underwater world, changing Fabien Cousteau’s life forever.
Jacques-Yves Cousteau wasn’t always a conservationist but his work reached a turning point when he saw the devastation Mankind was causing to the environment. With his two sons, Jean-Michel and Philippe, and late wife Simone, they established the Cousteau Society. The non-profit organisation aimed to drive awareness of the ocean’s condition to the public and work with researchers and scientists to understand the complexities of climate change and global warming. Today, that message is more important than ever.
Years later, after a public fall-out with Jacques Cousteau, Jean-Michel established his own non-profit, Ocean Futures Society with his children Fabien and Céline. The family of the late Philippe Cousteau, who passed away in a plane accident not long after the Cousteau Society was established, set up their own activism platform, EarthEcho International. And last year, Fabien Cousteau created his own education and activation organisation, the Fabien Cousteau Ocean Learning Centre.
The avid diver also sits on the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Seakeepers Society, a privately-led initiative by yacht owners and other ocean lovers to actively engage their peers to offer yacht-time for researchers and educational organisations to utilise. The idea is simply to free up money that the researchers would otherwise have to pay for leasing a yacht for their work, making full use of grants to actually accomplish scientific results. Pragmatic and direct, it’s a brilliant way for individuals to contribute to a scientific cause.
Cousteau was recently in town to join in the International Seakeepers Society Asia‘s Awards Dinner and present two prizes to Francis Lee and Stephen Beng for their efforts in protecting Singapore’s marine ecosystem. He spoke with us to discuss numerous issues, from government oversight to the inefficient use of plastics, sustainable fishing and more. Check out the video above to see highlights of the interview and the one below for the highlights of the awards dinner.