Historical Overview: Tuna Fishing & Canning in San Pedro – Terminal Island

While the Hollywood film industry was in its infancy, a less glamorous industry with its own stars was already underway along the shores of Southern California: the West Coast tuna industry.  Established in the early 1900s in the small port town of San Pedro, the fishing and canning industry later extended to Terminal Island and rapidly developed through the innovative and pioneering spirit of immigrants primarily from Japan, Croatia, and Italy. They brought generations of fishing knowledge and experience that formed a truly American industry.

The tuna brought to the bustling fish markets and canneries of San Pedro and Terminal Island became the lifeblood of a diverse and thriving immigrant fishing community. Their activities on the water and in the canneries evolved into a multi-million dollar industry with over a century of history that spans two world wars and encompasses many political, cultural, and environmental challenges.

Individual innovations and cultural contributions helped the industry to flourish, providing an economic boon for the Port of Los Angeles.  San Pedro fishermen influenced the evolution of tuna fishing techniques, many of which are still used today by fishing fleets around the world to harvest tuna.

Also see the Los Angeles Port’s Timeline of Fishing in the Los Angeles Harbor.