Caught, Canned and Eaten:

The History of San Pedro’s Fishing and Canning Industries

San Pedro was the fishing capital of the nation for much of the twentieth century. Generations of fishermen sold catches of tuna, sardines, mackerel, and squid to fish markets or canneries on nearby Terminal Island.

Today, the fishing fleet is greatly diminished and the canneries have closed, but the legacy of the fishing and canning industries endures.

Canneries on Terminal island included Star-Kist tuna.

Cannery workers were responsible for cleaning and inspecting fish which was later packed into cans, sterilized, and shipped to markets. San Pedro pioneered the technique of canning tuna in 1903, and world-famous brands such as Star-Kist and Chicken of the Sea had local origins.

Visit the new exhibit and discover authentic cannery equipment and life-size murals, watch classic TV commercials for Charlie the Tuna, and experience that lovely aroma of fish, “the smell of money”.

Video display of a real catch, displays of fishing nets.

San Pedro’s fishermen experienced many changes. Their work was made easier when their boats carried modern equipment such as radar. Labor-saving devices such as synthetic nets and power blocks meant more fish could be caught with less effort, though as time went on the boats often had to sail farther and farther away from home in order to find fish.

This interactive section offers the opportunity to touch and compare different types of nets, and view a video of sardine and mackerel fishing.

Fiesta celebrations circa 1980.

The annual Fishermen’s Fiesta was an opportunity for fishermen to celebrate with family and friends, give thanks, and bless the fleet. Thousands of spectators, including celebrities and politicians, lined the docks each year to view the decorated boats on parade.
Enjoy silent home movies from the 1949 and 1957 fiestas, and admire the many trophies and souvenirs kept as remembrances of the event.