Chinese fishermen and merchants were among the first immigrants who rushed to California after the discovery of gold in 1848. These men recognized the tremendous bounty of marine species along California’s coasts and inland waterways. Using time honored fishing methods along with traditional watercraft and gear; Chinese fishers harvested a variety of marine products and built some of the first commercial fisheries in California. The first recorded Chinese fishing village was located at Rincon Point on the South San Francisco Bay. The village took shape around 1850, when a group of 150 men built and employed approximately 25 fishing craft to catch sturgeon, shark, and large quantities of herring. Just a decade later, Chinese fishing villages spanned the Pacific coastline from the California and Oregon border to the southern reaches of Baja California, Mexico, along the Sacramento River Delta, and on offshore islands. There were several Chinese fishing epicenters in California. Shrimp fishing dominated the San Francisco Bay area; Monterey specialized in abalone and squid; San Diego and Santa Barbara were primarily concerned with abalone. Through an elaborate international trade network, Chinese fishers and merchants supplied markets, both domestic and abroad, with fresh and dried fish and other marine products. The success and fortitude of these Chinese fishing pioneers helped create and shape the identity of California as a commercial and recreational fishing stronghold.
– Linda Bentz, Chinese Historical Society of Southern California