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Cousteau family feuds over Hawaii condo project 2006-10-28 17:47:16

    BEIJING, Oct 28 (Xinhuanet) -- Francine Cousteau, the widow of Jacques Cousteau, said Friday she opposes a 1,500-unit condominium development on the Hawaii island of Oahu that her stepson, Jean-Michael Cousteau, is helping build as a consultant.

    Sea Mountain at Punaluu, a 434-acre project, would be the biggest single development ever on the east side of the Big Island. In addition to condominiums, it will also include a hotel and a resort.

    "It has been brought to our attention that many are under the impression that Jean-Michel Cousteau has the support of The Cousteau Society in his endeavors," said Francine Cousteau, president of the society. "We are extremely concerned about the potential environmental implications of the Sea Mountain resort."

    The project has also been attacked by environmental groups that claim it will harm threatened and endangered species such as the hawksbill turtle. They also say it would ruin the cultural and aesthetic qualities of the area.

    Jean-Michel Cousteau, 68, split from the Cousteau Society in 1992 while his father was still alive. The younger Cousteau had been executive vice president of the organization for 20 years.

    The dispute about how to continue the Cousteau legacy widened in 1996, when Jacques Cousteau successfully sued his son over the use of the family name on an eco-resort in Fiji.

    The lawsuit prohibited Jean-Michel from using the family name on the resort without attaching his first name just as prominently. Jacques Cousteau died the following year, but the feud has continued.

    Jean-Michel Cousteau's nonprofit organization, the Ocean Futures Society, has been involved in about a dozen similar projects in places such as Fiji and the Cayman Islands.

    Jean-Michel Cousteau has promised to make the project environmentally and culturally sensitive.

    Jim Miller, one of Jean-Michel Cousteau's colleagues at the Ocean Futures Society, defended Cousteau's sincerity and devotion to the environment.

    "Jean-Michel's positive work speaks for itself," Miller said. "I don't think any informed person would question his credentials."

    Jean-Michel Cousteau was in the Amazon jungle filming for his nature TV show and could not be reached for comment.





Editor: Gareth Dodd
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