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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Fish Bulletin No. 52. Historical Account of the Los Angeles Mackerel Fishery

  • Author(s): Croker, Richard S
  • et al.

The mackerel is one of the leading commercial fishes of California; its catch is exceeded only by that of the sardine. However, for many years prior to 1928, the fishery based on the Pacific mackerel, Pneumatophorus diego, was relatively unimportant. Since the turn of the century the mackerel had supplied a steady but limited demand for fresh fish, but at no time was any appreciable part of the great number of mackerel in the ocean utilized. In 1928 the first large scale canning of mackerel took place. The subsequent development of the mackerel canning industry provides one of the most spectacular pages in the history of the world's fisheries. Almost overnight the mackerel catch rose from tenth to second place among the fisheries of California.

Today ever-expanding fishing operations are endangering the supply of mackerel. In the not too distant future it will be necessary to impose restrictions on the industry so that it can continue to exist. At present there is no legislation in California pertaining to the mackerel specifically. Such legal protection as it receives consists of general gear restrictions, the establishment of areas closed to all commercial fishing, and the application of general laws prohibiting the waste of fish or the manufacture of fish into meal and oil.

The mackerel fishery, being new and still growing, is changing rapidly. Differences in gear and in boats are to be noted during the first few years of its development. It is the purpose of this paper to present a study of the fishery during its formative period, with particular emphasis on the boats comprising the mackerel fleet, in order to facilitate direct comparisons in future years. In this connection it can be said that the present account is a sequel to the general report issued as Fish Bulletin 40 (Croker, 1933). In the brief interval since the publication of that paper, a number of developments have taken place in the industry, illustrating the changing character of this fishery.

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