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A Timeline of Fishing in the San Francisco Bay 


1871: Chinese immigrants, using a distinctive style of net, establish a large commercial shrimp fishery in San Francisco Bay. Most of the shrimp are dried and exported to China.

1893: Commercial fishing for California salmon expands from streams and rivers to the ocean. For the next 60 years, more than a million of the fish will return upstream to spawn each year.

1914: Driven by demand for canned food during World War I, the California sardine industry becomes the largest commercial fishery in the U.S.

1925: The old Meiggs Wharf — on the north side of the city, not far from today's Fisherman's Wharf — is set aside by an act of the California Legislature exclusively for fishermen. Demand for Dungeness crab supports a thriving fishery comprised mostly of Italian immigrants.

1950s: A massive decline in sardines, driven at least in part by shifting ocean temperatures, leads to the collapse of California's sardine industry.

1973: Following the collapse of Japan's domestic herring fishery, San Francisco fishermen begin large-scale harvesting of the fish for its roe, which is exported.

2008: Faced with dwindling numbers of wild salmon, regulators close California's commercial and recreational salmon seasons completely.

2009: A decline in the herring population leads the state to close the commercial herring season for the first time in the fleet's history.

2011: With salmon numbers resurgent, regulators reopen a substantial commercial fishing season of more than three months.

Download the timeline.


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