It was during World War I that the government recognized
the value of the canned sardine as cheap nutritious food for the
troops. In 1918 a record output of 1,400,000 cases of sardines was
shipped. New canneries began opening to keep up with the demand.
In 1921 a total of 17 sardine reduction plants began opening up
and was an important part of the industry that turned it into big
business. The sardine reduction plants ground up whole fish and
processed it to produce feed for chickens, fish meal, used in paints,
glycerin for explosives and in salad oils. The sardine industry
was worth $22,000,000 by 1945 and employed 5000 Montereyans.
View Avenue, Monterey
In 1945 John Steinbeck immortalized the 1 mile stretch that was
Ocean View Avenue in Monterey with his published book "Cannery
Row." The notoriety of the book focused so much attention to
the street that in 1953 the city of Monterey formerly changed the
street name to "Cannery Row." It is a fitting name to
this historic street.
The decline of the Monterey sardine industry was caused by a combination
of over fishing and from the very efficient sardine reduction plants
that were mostly automated and used any size fish, in contrast canned
sardines had a size minimum of 6-8 inches. Regulation of the fishing
industry was weak at that time. In 1945 the total tonnage was 235,000
tons plummeting to 15,000 tons in 1948. The last of the sardines
were canned in 1964 with not more than 10,000 tons shipped. The
canners attempted to can squid hoping the sardines would return
but the sardines never recovered from the over fishing.
| Part 2