From: Associated Press
Published September 15, 2006 12:00 AM

Cousteau Plans Resort in Hawaii That Would Offer Marine Conservation Programs

HONOLULU — French marine explorer Jean-Michel Cousteau and his Ocean Futures Society are helping to plan a 434-acre (174-hectare) resort-residential complex on Hawaii's Big Island.

Cousteau has joined developer Sea Mountain Five LLC to create Sea Mountain, which would include 300 hotel rooms and a mix of between 1,200 and 1,500 single-family and multifamily units.

"In creating Sea Mountain at Punaluu, we will work closely with the community to develop a Hawaiian cultural center, as well as marine conservation programs that serve local residents as well as visitors," Cousteau said Thursday. "Our new relationship with Sea Mountain provides the ideal opportunity to prove that environmental and economic sustainability are absolutely connected."

Cousteau plans to locate one of his "Ambassadors of the Environment" programs at the complex. AOTE programs already exists up the coast in Kailua-Kona and in California, Fiji, the Caribbean, Tahiti and the Mediterranean. More are to be established next year, he said.

The programs offer young people a chance to connect with nature through hikes, skin diving excursions, slide shows and discussions.

Cousteau has been involved in the planning of other development projects, including the Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Island Resort. The Fiji project made Conde Nast Traveler magazine's annual "Green List" last year for being one of the top ecotourism resorts in the world.

Sea Mountain was first envisioned around 30 years ago. A golf course was built, infrastructure was installed and some residential units were built, but the project was never finished.

George Atta, a partner of the planning and architectural firm Group 70 International, said the current project would have about half the density of the original version.

Atta said he hoped an environmental impact statement for the project can be completed and accepted by the end of the year and that a special management area permit is issued toward the last half of 2007. Construction could then begin, he said.

Source: Associated Press

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