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5-Year Project, 150 in Crew : Cousteau, 75, Studying Rapport of Humans, Sea

Associated Press

Jacques-Yves Cousteau, now 75 years old, has embarked on a five-year project to study the rapport between humans and the waters around them.

“Instead of just being ecologists, we are becoming sociologists,” he told a recent meeting of the Anglo-American Press Assn. in Paris.

“The quality of the water (determines) in large measure the quality of life, . . . (and) man can save or destroy life,” he said.

Using the famous Calypso, his floating laboratory since 1951, and the Alcyone, an experimental boat powered by a wind turbine with no sails, Cousteau and a 150-member crew have already begun plying the waters from the Caribbean to China.

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The project is called “Ecotech.”

Repairs for Calypso

The Calypso so far has visited Haiti and Cuba in the Caribbean. After undergoing repairs in Miami, it will go on to New Zealand, Australia, New Guinea, China and Indonesia before touring Africa.

The Alcyone, launched by Cousteau three years ago, will go to the Far East, the Red Sea and possibly the Persian Gulf.

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Cousteau described Haiti as overpopulated and “beyond salvation.” He said his studies indicated that its environment has been abused and its soil eroded. The felling of forests, mainly for firewood, has left much of the land irreversibly barren, he said.

Nearby Cuba, on the other hand, is a rare example of good management, at least of its water system, Cousteau said.

“What struck us . . . is that we realized this is the only place in the Caribbean where marine life abounds,” he said.

Interviews With Castro

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Cousteau said he had numerous interviews with Fidel Castro, the Cuban leader whom he described as “a man impassioned by ecology.”

“He has (managed to) increase fishing and at the same time increased the stock,” Cousteau said. “No other country does this.”

Cousteau stressed that he did not attribute Cuba’s success to its Marxist philosophy but to Castro’s personal will to protect the water.

For Cousteau, politics and ecology do not mix. He maintained that only a mass popular movement can save the world environment from increasing deterioration.

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“Ecology must be the flag of all nations,” he said, adding it’s a mistake to politicize environmental issues so that the outcome depends on a handful of elected officials.

Asked about man’s ability to protect the environment, Cousteau said he is pessimist.

“But I’m optimistic by nature because I have faith,” he said. “And it’s not necessary to believe you’ll succeed in order to fight.”


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