Cal Fish Opens In 1893 Albert Halfhill and associates opened, Southern California Fish Company, the first sardine cannery in on Terminal Island in the San Pedro Bay. Ten years later, a low sardine catch led Halfhill to tuna. The first case of 48 3/4 pound cans went out to pioneer Los Angeles grocer, H. Jevne. Local lore holds that two years later there were still cans on the shelf. Long considered a sport fish, consumers were hesitant to buy the new product.
California Fish Co, 1926. ~ Los Angeles Public Library
click to enlarge: Van Camp's and French Sardine in Fish Harbor, 1948. ~ Matich Family Collection
The Big Canners of Terminal Islandís Cannery Row World War I food shortages popularized the unfamiliar canned white meat. In 1914, Halfhillís associate Wilber Wood sold his cannery in to Frank L. Van Camp who moved the operation, now Van Camp Sea Food Company, to Fish Harbor. In 1917, also in Fish Harbor, Croatian-born immigrants Martin J. Bogdanovich, Joseph P. Mardesich, Nick Vilicich, James Mirkovich, and Ivo Mirkovich incorporated the French Sardine Company. In 1923, Mardesich sold his shares and opened Franco-Italian.
Tuna Cannery Empires In 1942, French Sardine was renamed Star-Kist. A decade later, Van Camp had taken the name Chicken of the Sea. In 1925 one million cases (48 cans per case) of tuna were packed at Terminal Island and by 1952, fourteen thousand cases were packed in an 8-hour day. This increase was due, in part, to Star-kistís new Plant 4 facility, opened in 1952 with the most advanced canning equipment. By 1955, Star-Kist had was the largest tuna canner in the world.
Star-Kist Plant 4, 1952. The new facility included a 43,200 sqare foot processing room where women employees cleaned, gutted, filleted and packed tuna. ~ San Pedro Bay Historical Society