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U.S. Ties to Ocean, Coast on Display at EXPO 2012 Yeosu Korea
April 26, 2012

By Phillip Kurata
IIP Staff Writer
April 25, 2012

A projected image of the ocean with fish
This ceiling LED display at EXPO 2012 shows a scene of stunning oceanic beauty.

The United States will exhibit its diverse ocean environments and coastal communities during EXPO 2012 Yeosu Korea, and tell how America’s culture, history, security and economy are linked to this complex ecosystem.

“We are the most diverse country with respect to the types of ocean and coastal ecosystems in the world, from the Arctic down to the coast of California, the far Pacific, the Caribbean, the Gulf [of Mexico], New England,” said the spokesman for USA Pavilion 2012, Philippe Cousteau Jr.

EXPO 2012 Yeosu Korea, with the theme “The Living Ocean and Coast,” opens in the Korean port city Yeosu on May 12 and runs until August 12. The expo highlights the importance of maritime ecosystems to the planet, illustrates the damage done to them and shows how they can be restored through technology and international cooperation.

USA Pavilion 2012 will show visitors not only “the multitude of coastal habitats and environments, but also the types and ways that Americans interact with the ocean, the way that we see the ocean, from fishing and recreation and culture and food,” Cousteau said in a briefing for reporters at the Foreign Press Center in Washington.

Cousteau is well prepared to tell this story. He spent his youth under the tutelage of his grandfather, Jacques-Yves Cousteau, the famed oceanic explorer, ecologist and filmmaker, who made documentary films and wrote books while studying the ocean aboard his laboratory ship, Calypso.

Philippe Cousteau Jr. said the ocean is often overlooked in discussions about saving the environment, but it is important to keep in mind that the ocean and coast provide 60 percent of the Earth’s oxygen, are the source of protein for more than a billion people, and regulate the climate. “They are the life-support system of this planet,” he said. The USA Pavilion will illustrate threats to a healthy ocean posed by overfishing, rising seas and acidification, and will show how technology, renewable energy and better fisheries management can protect them.

The USA Pavilion 2012 will be staffed by 40 young, Korean-speaking Americans drawn from universities across the United States.

“They will serve as the public face of our people-to-people diplomacy efforts,” said Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Ann Stock, who joined Cousteau at the press briefing. “They were selected to present the future of America throughout our Pavilion … We see these 40 young people as tomorrow’s leaders, particularly in the relationship between the United States and Korea.”

Brittany Alexander, one of the student ambassadors, said the chance for her to work at the USA Pavilion 2012 is “a great way to gain experience in building U.S. foreign relations on the ground level, as well as to better understand the importance of preserving the world’s ocean and coastline.” Last year, she studied at Yonsei University in Seoul.

“I also hope to use the knowledge that I will gain from this experience in order to someday create a better future for U.S.-Korean relations politically, culturally and environmentally,” she added.

Participating in EXPO 2012 are representatives from 109 countries as well as from international organizations. The three-month event is expected to attract more than 7 million visitors traveling in person to the port city at the southern end of the Korean Peninsula. Millions more are expected to make the trip digitally.

To get to EXPO 2012 via iPhone or Android, a visitor can use “the Amazing Ocean app that … brings all the content … to life for people around the world,” Cousteau said. “It’s in multiple languages, including Korean, and it really helps to provide an interactive and digitally based element to the ocean story that we want to tell.”