Importance of Fish
Ancient Hawaiians drew their sustenance - physical and spiritual - from the land and sea around them. Guided by a philosophy that paired a cycle of cultivating and harvesting plants and animals with conservation of those resources, they lived in balance with their environment. Within this context, fishing held a central role. Seafood provided the primary protein in the Hawaiian diet, complementing vegetable staples such as taro, sweet potato and breadfruit. Ocean resources were so important that the ahupua`a system of land division ensured each district had access to the sea along a swath of shoreline and beyond to fisheries. Within each pie-shaped division, fishing communities exchanged with upland farmers, supplying fish, shellfish, seaweed, and salt to the entire district.
Fishermen maintained personal and spiritual relationships with the sea, acquiring extensive knowledge of shore and reef areas, honing their diving skills to locate fish, spear fish, free nets, and set traps. The many proverbs, prayers, and tales attest to the importance of fishing in Hawaiian culture. A successful fisherman was a highly valued asset for his entire community. The historian Kamakau wrote that the fortunate fisherman "was like a lucky woman who attracts men by the fragrance of her skin."
| Sites for further information|