Cannery row tells the story on the booming and collapse of sardine fishery in Monterey, California

Review: Abdel Rahman El Gamal (Founder of the website)

Cannery row (02) Monterey Cannery row (01) Monterey


The inserted picture was taken on January 22, 2015 during my visit to the cannery row, the street that witnessed the sardine explosion and then collapse of sardine fishery in Monterey, California (USA).

The first cannery in the row was born in 1901 and soon after a second cannery operated in 1903. In less than two decades after and during the World War I (1916-1918), rapid expansion in the cannery took place as driven by wartime demand. The production of canned sardines grew from 75,000 cases in 1915 to 1.4 million in 1918.

The slow-down of canning following the World War I and the Great Depression was utilized by the canneries in the processing of fishmeal until World War II where another booming for the canning industry took place. In fact, the Monterey’s oval sardine can become world-famous by feeding armies and allied nations at war in WW I, and again in WW II.

In order to meet the demand, purse-Seiners along with large and modern boats with nets a quarter mile long and two hundred feet deep, were introduced in 1928 and enabled the overfishing of the sardines which ultimately led to the collapse of the industry resulting in an economic disaster to Cannery Row whereas the last cannery closed in 1973.

During the sardine flourishing era, the annual landings of sardine amounted over 200,000 tons, used for canning and the production of fish meal and fertilizer placing Monterey as “Sardine Capital of the World” as it fed a world at war with the plentiful and nutritious Monterey sardine.

It worth noting that the first public warning about the potential demise of the sardine fishery came in 1919 from the scientists in the Hopkins Marine Station and typically as continues to occur around the globe, there was a bitter battle, pitting fledgling fishery scientists against the fishing and canning interests in the state. It appears that the growing wartime demand on canned sardines and the lack of management tools to conserve the sardine fishery resource.

Cannery Row itself is now a tourist attraction with many restaurants and hotels, several of which are located in former cannery buildings, and a few historic attractions.

Note: My visit to the cannery row was arranged by Mr. Trevor Fay (Owner of Monterey Abalone Company) who hosted during that day.




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