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Fish Bulletin No. 48. Fishing Localities for the California Sardine, Sardinops caerulea, 1928–1936


A knowledge of the localities in which fish are caught comprises an important phase in the investigation of any great fishery. Changes in the fishing grounds frequently have a significant bearing on the question of overfishing, and as a rule, the location of the fishing grounds is intimately connected with the biology of the species involved. Because of these factors, the program for the investigation of the California sardine includes the gathering of information about the locality in which individual catches are made by commercial fishermen. This investigation was inaugurated in 1919 and has been continued without interruption. The first ten years, 1919 to 1929, covered the period of rapid expansion experienced by the industry following its initial impetus furnished by the World War. The detailed findings for this time interval have been published previously.

During this ten-year period the fishing grounds were rapidly extended from the local areas immediately adjacent to the canneries located at Monterey, San Pedro and San Diego to distant grounds, 30, 40, and even 60 miles from port. Because of this rapid initial growth, the succeeding seven seasons, 1929–30 to 1935–36, have seen little addition to the previously exploited fishing areas. The one exception is the development of the fishing grounds off San Francisco. In 1928–29 only one cannery was operating in the San Francisco region, but by 1935–36 the San Francisco Bay ports comprised one of the three important sardine fishing centers of the State. As a result, a fleet of boats is now operating out of San Francisco and exploiting new fishing grounds as well as fishing those frequented by Monterey boats. The grounds fished by the Monterey, San Pedro and San Diego fleets have changed but little. If in the future new canning centers are developed, new grounds adjacent to these centers will probably be utilized but it seems unlikely that any new localities will be fished extensively in the vicinity of the present canning ports.

Because of this lack of change, the time is opportune to compare the areas covered by the sardine fishermen throughout the entire state and to attempt to point out the association of these fishing grounds with oceanic depth contours and with distances from ports and shore lines.

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