“Investigator Blames Industry, Nature for Shortage”

Katharine A. Rodger

in Breaking Through

Published by University of California Press

Published in print May 2006 | ISBN: 9780520247048
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520932661 | DOI:
“Investigator Blames Industry, Nature for Shortage”

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Edward F. Ricketts's serious studies of the sardine cycle span the almost twenty-five years he lived and worked in Monterey Bay—from the mid-1920s through the late 1940s—as he watched the boom and bust of Cannery Row. By the time his last and most articulate essay about the subject, “Investigator Blames Industry, Nature for Shortage,” appeared in the 1948 Monterey Peninsula Herald, the canning industry had begun to collapse. In his article, Ricketts attempted to explain the crisis in a historical context. The article ran on the first and third pages of the newspaper and included a bar graph of the annual tonnage of sardines caught along the entire North American Pacific coastline from the 1920–1921 season through the 1947–1948 season. Ricketts was a staunch conservationist, and while he was willing to take, and took, the unpopular position that overfishing was a major factor in the collapse of the sardine population, he recognized that it was affected by a diverse and complicated set of factors—both human and natural—and knew the problem could not be solved simply.

Keywords: Edward F. Ricketts; sardines; canning industry; overfishing; Monterey Bay; Cannery Row; Pacific coastline

Chapter.  2301 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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