Friday, November 14, 2008
The year 1945 is often cited as the peak of the sardine industry in Monterey, with 19canneries and 20 reduction plants working full blast, and more than 100 fishing boats venturing forth in search of sardines. That year, Monterey ranked third in the world in total tonnage of fish caught behind Stavanger, Norway and Hull, England.
Maybe overfishing caused the collapse of the Monterey sardine industry in the 1940s and '50s, as many people believe, but maybe not. Scientists have not reached a consensus on the question, pointing to deep natural biological shifts in the Pacific Ocean as a possible culprit in the plummeting stocks of sardines caught locally. Research on this topic continues today at local institutions.
(Photo: Abandoned canneries on Cannery Row today courtesy of Bill Selak, Creative Commons license.)