The renowned ocean explorer and environmentalist, Jean-Michel Cousteau, will be this year’s keynote speaker at The “Seventh Annual Future of the Ocean Symposium and Champions of the Ocean Awards Luncheon.” The event will take place on October 21 in Woodrow Wilson Hall at 10:00 am. Along with speaking at the conference, Cousteau will be honored as a National Champion of the Ocean.
With his founding of Ocean Futures Society in 1999, Cousteau has been the “voice of the ocean” by educating people on the vulnerability of the sea. The organization inspires people to be environmentally friendly, and also brings awareness to the importance of the ocean for the survival of all life on Earth.
“At Ocean Futures Society, we are constantly involved with trying to help the environment,” Cousteau said. “We bring awareness to the people from our experiences in the ocean and let them assimilate that information.”
Cousteau particularly enjoys speaking to a younger audience because they are receptive to his message. “Students formulate their opinions on the knowledge they acquire. Forty-five years ago, we did not have the information that we have today, so by listening to our message, students can be better decision makers than the generation before them.”
Tony MacDonald, Director of the Urban Coast Institute at the University, says that Cousteau has been a motivator for many positive changes that are occurring with the conservation of the oceans.
“Jean-Michel has done tremendous work with the oceans by being a hands-on environmentalist who brings awareness to the public on issues such as plastic pollutants and the Pacific Northwest gyre problem.”
The gyre, which is a combination of currents between the Americas and Asia, collects trash and plastics that are disposed of improperly and washes them ashore on the Northern Hawaiian Islands. As a result, sea life and birds perish by ingesting the harmful waste products.
But on June 15, 2006, President George W. Bush signed a proclamation designating the waters of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands a national monument due to the information presented to him by Cousteau. “I brought the problem to the attention of the President and he acted. If shown the problem, people will respond.”
Cousteau said, “I am honored to be receiving the Champion of the Ocean Award, but there are many people in the world who do just as much for the environment as I do. Those who do their part deserve recognition too.”
“Cousteau is an international leader in ocean conservation, and to have him speak at the University is a tremendous honor”, MacDonald said. “The Award has given the University a lot of recognition over the past several years by honoring accomplished and high-profile people.”
Last year’s winners included Dr. Shirley Pomponi, President of the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution and U.S. Rep.
James Saxton, a senior member of the House Natural Resource Committee’s Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans Subcommittee.
Following in his father’s footsteps, Cousteau explores the ocean world and shares with the public his findings through film projects and lectures. He also works diligently to protect wetlands, estuaries, and coral reefs. “He is an excellent spokesman for what we promote here at UCI of Monmouth University,” said MacDonald.
Megan Mahon, a junior at the University, is planning on attending the event.
“I am interested in what Cousteau will speak about. I spend my summers at the beach, so I support any positive influences that will protect the ocean.”
By attending the event, Mahon believes that she will gain insight into Cousteau’s dedicated approach to protecting the oceans and the life that depends on it.
“I want to be aware of the problems that affect the oceans. If I can be a factor in helping, I would be satisfied.”
Ocean Futures Society welcomes those who want to become members. “Being a member will allow a person to better educate themselves on the issues of conservation and protection of our oceans,” said Cousteau.
Members also receive a monthly e-newsletter with updates on the organization along with marine conservation news and educational programs.
Those interested in attending the symposium are urged to make reservations by calling 7322635662 or online at ljordan@monmouth.