Fishing Respectfully: Mitakuye Oyasin!

Using a unique crowd-funding approach, a loose group of friends and ecologists is fulfilling a common dream: to sail to the South Seas while having a positive impact. Check out the Green Coconut Run and read on to find out about their most recent adventures.

Is catching fresh fish going to become a thing of the past?! Scientists have denounced over-fishing… what are we to do, lovers of sea food and marine life?

This amazing story brought us renewed hope: how a Native American professor named Four Arrows used crowd-funding to secure a marine reserve, with just $28,000 on Kickstarter!  He did this with the local fishing community’s support in Mexico, which we encountered during our voyage south and we wrote about it on our blog… but here we present the full story in video at the bottom of this blog post.


To Fish Respectfully

Meeting Four Arrows occurred at a time in the voyage when we began to feel bad about killing fish, almost two months into the voyage. We knew that harvesting protein from the sea was good, but how could we do it respectfully, and honor the animals in the process?  Incredibly, just before meeting Four Arrows, we had one of our most surprising fishing experiences ever: a flying squid that landed in our laps, and hooked up a solid yellowfin tuna.  It was a metaphysical moment.

With sushi overflowing on our table, we asked Four Arrows for insight into the conundrum of being an “moral hunter”.

Fish as Resources vs. Relatives

To paraphrase, Four Arrows said:  “People talk about protecting fish habitat because they are important natural resources.  That is our western education speaking. They are not resources. They are our relatives. As our relatives, the fish know they are part of the cycle of life, and honor their role in it, as we honor ours. In the Lakota tradition we offer the prayer ‘Mitakuye Oyasin‘ which means  We Are All Related. It reminds ourselves of our place and responsibility in the cycle of life. ”


We are All Related

From there on out, we used the prayer when catching fish… until one day, our dear friend Erika was aboard and was surprised to hear it. For they also use that phrase in their Wilderness Youth Project (children’s environmental education in Santa Barbara), since their work has basis in the worldview and traditions of the Lakota.

And thus the circle closes… and the good work continues.  Mitakuye Oyasin!


The marine reserve at Arroyo Seco is still being set up… updates are available on their Kickstarter page.

Now, Four Arrows has been playing a role as an elder at Standing Rock during the protests of the Dakota Access Pipeline.


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