Japanese on the California Channel Islands

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Japanese abalone camp, San Clemente Island, 1913

JAPANESE on the Channel Islands began harvesting abalone at the turn of the century. In 1900, county ordinances were passed that made it illegal to gather abalones from less than twenty feet of water. The regulations completely halted Chinese commercial abalone operations. Undaunted by the new regulations, Japanese fishermen began diving for abalones, first as free divers from surface floats and later, more successfully, as hard-hat divers. They utilized old rice wine casks as floats to rest on after each dive. They would take a few deep breaths, dive to the bottom and return to the surface with their catch. They quickly earned the nickname of saké barrel divers because of their unusual technique.

According to Helen Caire: “The Japanese engaged in the abalone trade for only a few years at the islands of Santa Cruz, San Clemente, Santa Catalina, and seasonally at Anacapa.” In June 1911, the superintendent of the Santa Cruz Island Company was notified of negotiations with Komai Brothers of Los Angeles, who make the specialty of diving for abalone, and payment on account of rental.” [1993: 141]. Soon thereafter, the Asahi Fishing Company of Los Angeles had the exclusive right of camping and drying their product at Santa Cruz Island, and notice was served to all others.

Abalone landings peaked at about 3.9 million pounds in 1935, and then declined to under 200,000 pounds by 1942 as fishermen of Japanese heritage were moved to relocation camps during the early part of World War II. Commercial abalone fishing increased later in World War II when abalone was used as a source of wartime food.

Landings rapidly increased between 1942 and 1951. Landings appeared relatively stable from 1952 to 1968, averaging about 4.5 million pounds per year, but began declining rapidly in 1969. By 1996, the last full year the commercial fishery was open, landings had fallen to about 229,500 pounds, only 4% of the fishery’s peak landings of 5.4 million pounds.

» Abalone


  • Edwards, Charles Lincoln The Abalones of California in Popular Science Monthly 82:532-550, June 1913
http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Popular_Science_Monthly/Volume_82/June_1913/The_Abalones_of_California


  • » Estes, Don Kondo Masaharu and the Best of All Fishermen in The Journal of San Diego History, San Diego Historical Society Quarterly, 23:3 Summer 1977


  • » Lodge, John E. Find Riches in Mysterious Ocean Shell [Japanese abalone fishing] in Popular Science Monthly, April 1931 (p. 37; 142-143)
http://www.popsci.com/archive-viewer?id=8ycDAAAAMBAJ&pg=57&query=The%20Abalones%20of%20California
  • » Edwards, Charles Lincoln The Abalones of California in Popular Science Monthly, June 1913
http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Popular_Science_Monthly/Volume_82/June_1913/The_Abalones_of_California


In the News~

February 26, 1899 [LAT]: “Abalones. The big shellfish known as the abalone is valuable not only for the shell, but also for the meat, which is highly prized by the Chinese, although Americans are apt to find it rather tough and indigestible… On Thursday there arrived here by steamer from San Francisco a half dozen or so of Japanese. They are the crew of a six-ton schooner that came down a few days ago which has already started on an abalone-hunting expedition for John Nelson, a well-known fisherman. Mr. Nelson is in the employ of a San Francisco firm…”


November 15, 1899 [LAT/SP]: “Japanese abalone divers. The abalone industry is to be carried on by more modern methods. Recent advances in the price of the shells have brought about the change. Heretofore the abalones gathered from along this part of the coast and the shores of the neighboring islands, have been taken almost altogether at low tide. But the range of high and low water does not compass all of the hunting ground. The abalone is somewhat of a deepwater creature, and may be taken from far beneath the surface if the means are at hand wherein to take them… The schooner Edith has just returned from a trip to San Clemente Island, where she went with a number of Japanese who will collect abalones. The little brown men are equipped with diving apparatus, and will take the much prized univalves from submarine grounds which have hitherto been undisturbed by man.”


April 26, 1901 [LAT/SCat]: “The Japanese divers engaged in cleaning the hull of the steamer Hermosa are the prime attraction at Avalon. The pier is constantly lined with a curious crowd watching the line of bubbles which indicates the location of the diver, and scrambling for the barnacle shells which are occasionally thrown up.”


February 12, 1902 [LAT]: “The prospect of a renewal of the abalone industry is said to be good. L. Harris, who had a number of Japanese employed in diving for that univalve, is planning to renew operations soon. For several years the gathering of the abalone was carried on regularly about the mainland coast and the islands near here, but the muddy seas last summer killed most of the creatures. Those which escaped the deadly ravages of the peridinium, and others which have been growing since then are said to be in a condition to be made marketable.”


October 7, 1902 [LAT/SB]: “The Board of Supervisors this afternoon passed an ordinance imposing a license tax of $400 a year on all abalone fishermen engaged on the islands in the Santa Barbara Channel. The tax will practically prohibit further operations. Within the past few months, hordes of Chinese and Japanese have been gathering abalones, drying the meat for export to Oriental countries, where it is a popular article of food, and disposing of the shells to button and curio factories. The business has been carried on so extensively that it is now necessary for the fishermen to work among the rocks beneath the surface of the water, clothed in diving suits, and abalones, which formerly were very plentiful, have been nearly exterminated.”


November 13, 1902 [SBMP]: “Captain Merry of the yacht Daisy, returned from Santa Cruz Island last night and reports a most disastrous cloudburst there Sunday morning, which resulted in the destruction of a Japanese abalone camp and the narrow escape of the fishermen from instant death. In speaking of the affair, Captain Merry said:

‘We anchored in Dick's Harbor Saturday morning. The weather conditions indication that a rain was near at hand. It did not begin to rain until Sunday afternoon at 1 o'clock, when a steady downpour set in and continued through the night. At 5:30 Monday morning we were all on deck, when suddenly our attention was attracted by a loud rumbling sound. Glancing toward shore we discovered that a cloudburst had occurred on the north side of Diablo Mountain, and an immense body of water was rushing down the canyon. The water was, at the least estimate, 20 feet deep, and carried away everything in its path. Trees that measured two feet in diameter were torn by the roots and carried out to sea. Near the beach was a camp of abalone fishermen who were sleeping in their tents unaware of the impending danger. They were awakened by our party, and had scarcely left their tents when the avalanche of water struck their camp, carrying away everything in sight. The Japanese succeeded in reaching high ground and thus avoided instant death. These men had been on the island all summer, and had collected abalone meat valued at $1250 and shells to the amount of $750. Their boats, which had been piled on the sides of the canyon, were rescued by us, and, strange to say, were not badly damaged…’”


November 14, 1902 [SBMP]: “The yacht Ariel returned yesterday from Santa Cruz Island. It was learned from one of those aboard that the Japanese fishermen whose abalones and boats were lost by the cloudburst Sunday morning, have succeeded in recovering a considerable portion of their property. The loss will be somewhat less than was at first reported.”


April 21, 1903 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. Catalina is up in arms. She has been invaded by Japan. A lot of little brown men, with a small sloop, appeared at Empire a few days since, and are preceding to skin the rocks of the abalones. These Japs are divers. They wear goggles with which they locate the abalone as they swim along the surface, and making a spring, they emulate the ‘hell diver’ and disappear to wrench the inoffensive shellfish from its hold on the rock by a quick thrust of an iron bar. Practice has made these men able to remain underwater an inconceivable length of time, and they seem to be as much at home in and under the water as the shag… ”


May 13, 1903 [LAT/SB]: “A sloop belonging to a Japanese abalone company doing business on the Channel Islands, after having been attached to satisfy claims of employees amounting to about $600, was taken from the wharf during the temporary absence of the keeper, and was far out at sea before its absence was discovered. Sheriff Stewart, upon being notified, called to his assistance a force of deputies and, having engaged a fast powerboat, started in pursuit of the sloop. After a chase of about twenty miles, the sheriff overtook the sailing craft, which had suddenly been becalmed, and arrested those on board, who were found to be Japanese in the employ of the company. It is believed that they were bound for the islands in the hope of removing several tons of abalones which were about to be attached. A deputy sheriff left this afternoon to take possession of the valuable stock in the warehouses.”


May 20, 1903 [SBMP]: “George Culberton left early yesterday morning for the islands to attach the remainder of the abalones owned by the Yamada Commercial Company, left on account of being too green at the time of the former attachment. He returned last night, leaving a Jap in charge as keeper, who will complete the curing of the abalones, when they will be brought over and sold to satisfy the claim against the company for wages.”


September 20, 1903 [SBMP]: “Violations of the State Fish Law... The conditions which exist at San Clemente and which the San Pedro officers are doing their best to stamp out, also exist at Santa Cruz Island, in which fishermen in the employ of the Yamada Company, a Japanese corporation doing fishing business on the island, landed over 60 sacks of undersized abalone shells, and stored them in a vacant house, where they were confiscated by the officers. Some of the shells measured only three inches in circumference, whereas fifteen inches is the minimum size allowed by law.”


January 23, 1904 [SBMP]: “The abalone cannery at Cayucos in San Luis Obispo county, after many ups and downs, principally the latter, has been closed down and is under attachment for salaries. The Yamada Commercial Company tried to run the company, but like everyone else that has tried it, made a failure.”


August 7, 1904 [SBMP]: “Captain Rosaline Vasquez sailed again for the south side of Santa Rosa Island to bring in a cargo of shells and other products collected there by the Japanese.”


August 14, 1904 [LAT/VC]: “Deputy Fish Commissioner Pritchard of Santa Monica, and Fish License Collector Davis of San Francisco, arrived from Anacapa Island this morning on the schooner Peerless, having in charge a party arrested for violating the lobster and abalone sections of the State laws… while at San Clemente are a lot of Japanese who are said to be breaking the law.”


September 14, 1904 [SBMP]: “The power yacht Peerless sailed yesterday for the islands where it will be loaded with abalone shells, sea grass and other products gathered there by the Japanese. These goods are unloaded here and shipped again to San Francisco.”


December 25, 1904 [LAT/SCat]: “…The abalone is here [Santa Catalina Island] safe from the Japanese divers, because the Bannings would not allow the perfection of this submarine foliage to be disturbed…”


[1905 Sunset Magazine]: “The West Coast Fishing Company, under the terms of a lease, has erected a cannery at Pelican Bay, and in every cove one runs into Chinese and Italian crawfishers who are in the employ of the company. Here and there, too, Japanese are seen diving for abalones.”


March 14, 1905 [SBMP]: “Japanese may have perished. Abalone fishermen thought to have been caught in the storm. A party of Japanese fishermen may have lost their lives on the south side of Santa Cruz Island during the recent storm. Captain Colice Vasquez is of the opinion, he having just returned from islands in the schooner Peerless. The men left this city some time ago for the islands in search of abalones and established a camp on the north side of Santa Cruz. Shortly before the storm of Saturday night set in, they left for the other side in their small boats. Since that time they have not been seen or heard of, and Captain Vasquez believes they were caught in the storm. The main force of the high seas broke against the south side of the islands and it is stated by those most familiar with conditions there that no vessel could survive the storm of Saturday. On his next trip to the islands Captain Vasquez will search for the missing Japanese.”


August 13, 1905 [LAT]: “Constable E. E. Jahraus of Laguna is having a merry time rounding up Japanese fishers from San Pedro who are alleged to be violating the law restricting the catching of abalones to twenty-five pounds at one time for each man. A crew of seven men was discovered on Tuesday with more than half a ton of the shells and fish aboard. Constable Jahraus took possession of the boat and dumped back into the sea more than 500 pounds of the abalones, which were alive at the time. The men were let go with the warning that they would be arrested upon a repetition of the offense. They were collecting the fish to be taken to San Pedro canneries.”


January 7, 1906 [LAT]: “…This time it is the inoffensive Japanese who have incurred the hatred of the San Pedro Unionists. According to these fellows, not a Jap can draw a seine, or cast a line in the waters of the coast, if they can be prevented by intimidation or by cajolery… Only a small amount of their catch goes to the general markets. But the San Pedro unionists are jealous of even this. On the first day of the new year, a miscreant, supposed to have been inspired by union backing, rowed out to one of these $1000 Jap fisher boats and bored several holes in its bottom, after which the boat was turned adrift. Later it was picked up by the fish boat Alpha for San Pedro and towed to that port, where it was held for salvage. A demand for $300 was made against the owners of the boat by the Alpha crew… The county authorities have taken up the matter…”


January 27, 1906 [SBMP]: “Juicy abalone will run oyster out of business... The abalone flesh is nutritious and wholesome, highly esteemed by the Chinese and Japanese, but as yet very little used in the United States...”


March 3, 1906 [SBMP]: “Complaint is made by boatmen returning from the channel islands that the San Pedro Canning Company is carrying away large quantities of abalones from different harbors on the islands. They have established a number of fishing camps where eight or ten Japanese equipped with diving suits are bringing up many shells from the bottom of the ocean. A camp was established at Cuyler's Harbor last Monday and the Japanese gathered over a ton of abalone meat on the first day. It is contended that such a wholesale attack on abalones will soon exterminate them from the places where they grow, and that one of the main attractions of the islands will be destroyed. The Japanese are under yearly contracts to fish for the San Pedro company.”


April 25, 1906 [SBMP]: “Diving for Abalones. Japanese fishermen are threatening industry... Recently Japanese fishermen in the employ of several of the large companies have been taking the large abalones from water up to ten fathoms deep by sending down expert divers with complete diving apparatus... Libbey and Nidever say that G. F. McGuire, owner of the powerboat Peerless, has a crew of ten Japs working for him at San Miguel, and that the San Pedro Cannery Company had the schooner Bolinas with a full crew of divers at work.”


May 13, 1906 [SBMP]: “The Japanese fishing sloop that has been carrying on a good business in these waters has changed hands and was yesterday hauled up on the sand by Captain Henry Koch for repairs. The boat will be thoroughly overhauled and will be re-christened. She will hereafter bear the name of the Japanese admiral, Togo.”


May 24, 1906 [SBMP]: “The launch Irene, Captain Nidever, returned yesterday from Forney's Cove where a Japanese diving camp was established.”


May 25, 1906 [SBMP]: “Frank Nidever, captain of the launch Irene, has recently returned from a trip to Santa Barbara Island. Nidever reports that there two Japanese abalone camps on the island, and that according to statements of the fishermen themselves, the grounds will be about cleaned out within a month. When there are no more shellfish to be taken, one outfit will move to San Miguel and the other will locate on either Santa Cruz or Anacapa. Nidever has been active in bringing the practical extermination of abalones by the Japs to the attention of the authorities, and hopes that some legislative action will be taken to protect the fish. The Japs use up-to-date diving outfits and get the large abalones in several fathoms of water. These large black abalones are the breeders, and it will take years to undo the harm that the divers have already done, even if measures are taken to prevent further depredations.”


June 30, 1906 [SBMP]: “The Japanese sloop Admiral Togo came in port yesterday afternoon with a cargo of fish that were caught by the Japanese off the islands.”


August 23, 1906 [SBI]: “Warrants have been issued in Justice Wheaton’s court for the arrest of three Japanese, against whom charges have been preferred for taking abalone larger [?] than the legal size, by Henry J. Abels, district patrolman for the state and game commission. The warrants were placed in the hands of Constable Storni late yesterday afternoon, but no service has yet been made for the reason that the Japs have not yet been located. It is believed that they have left the city or that, having received knowledge of the arrival of Patrolman Abels in Santa Barbara, have gone into hiding. The Japs had brought a large number of sacks of abalone shells from the islands in their small boat and had deposited the shells upon the commercial wharf for shipment to San Francisco. It was intended that the shells be shipped north last night, but Patrolman Abels learned yesterday afternoon that the shells were at the wharf and seized the entire consignment. John Doe warrants were made out for the arrest of the Japs who had brought the shells from the islands. The state law provides that no red abalones whose shells are of less than fifteen inches in circumference around the outer edge, shall be taken by the fisherman, and fixes the size of the shell of the black abalone at twelve inches. Shells of smaller size than those described were found in the sacks that had been left for shipment at the wharf by the Japanese. The shells will be destroyed after they have served their purpose as exhibits in court…”


August 27, 1906 [LAT]: “Abalone Japs are nabbed. Constable Peter Storni and Henry J. Abels of the State Fish and Game Commission brought three more Japanese abalone fishermen to justice this past week for taking abalone shells under the legal size from the shores of Santa Cruz Island. The offenders were arrested on John Doe warrants and contributed $100 in fines in Justice Wheaton’s court. It has been known for several days that Fish Commissioner Abels was on the track of some offenders against the game law. Three Japanese fishermen brought a boatload of abalone shells from the islands three days ago, and stored their property in sacks on the wharf for shipment to San Francisco. There were several tons of shells. Abels suspected that some of the shells were under size, but could not locate the fishermen. He therefore prevented the shipment of the shells on a northbound steamer, and in company with Constable Storni went to the wharf and examined them. A dozen or more shells that were smaller than the law allows, were found and were confiscated as evidence… The law allows no abalone shells to be taken of a circumference less than fifteen inches around the outer edge of the shell, but the black abalone, which does not grow so large, may be taken when twelve inches in circumference. Japanese divers reap a good profit from abalone meat and pearls…”


January 22, 1907 [LAT]: “Unless something very definite and tangible is done by the present Legislature, the California crawfish, commonly called lobster, will be a thing of the past in a very few years. Where dozens of men used to make a good living catching lobsters for a shilling a pound, a handful cannot make both ends meet on six times that price, for the fish are not to be had in any number worth while, even if long trips are taken in pursuit of them. The 9-1/2-inch size limit for lobsters is enforced as well as the present facilities will permit, but it continually is violated. It prevents the size of undersized lobsters, but does not stop the fishermen from catching them, and that is the real object of the law. The Japanese are chief offenders in this regard. They save the undersized lobsters for fish bait, and set their lobster nets in such a veritable fence around the rock reefs and kelp tangles where the lobsters live that all sizes, big and little are bound to be caught.”


December 6, 1907 [SFC]: “Japanese and whites fight for exclusive fishing privileges in waters surrounding San Clemente Island on south coast.”


February 16, 1908 [LAT/OX]: “…Spies who keep busy with pencils… At Anacapa Island are Japanese fishing camps. But all of the Japanese who go there are not rough-looking men and some of them carry packages similar to those in the possession of men who were found sketching the coastline and harbor by Mr. Redman…”


November 28, 1908 [SBI]: “Fishing at the islands has been considerably hampered for the past few days owing to the fact that the recent storm either badly injured or demolished about half a dozen boats of the Italian and Japanese fishermen. According to reports from the islands, four boats were lost at Cueva Valdez. A large skiff used by the Japanese as a sailboat, was washed ashore and broken up at Hazzards. Other boats are reported missing. Not in the last 20 years, fishermen say, have the waves rolled as high as in the recent storm. It was reported among fishermen at the time of the storm, that both the Baltic and the Peerless failed to weather the gale and went down. The Baltic was here at the time, and the Peerless has since been reported safe. The loss of the Japanese sailboat probably caused the rumor of the loss of the Peerless, as she is owned by Japanese. It will be several weeks before the wrecked boats are repaired or replaced, and in the meantime skiffs are at a premium. Crawfishing is still reported good, and it is expected that several large catches will be brought in tomorrow.”


December 17, 1908 [SBMP]: “Fishing for crawfish will be absolutely prohibited for a term of years, and the Japanese and Chinese abalone industry will be broken up.”


November 29, 1908 [SBMP]: “The yawl-rigged launch Peerless, at one time owned by W. S. Rees, cast anchor in the channel yesterday with a cargo of crawfish from Santa Cruz Island. The vessel is now owned by a company of Japanese fishermen from San Pedro.”


December 17, 1908 [SBMP]: “Fishing for crawfish will be absolutely prohibited for a term of years, and the Japanese and Chinese abalone industry will be broken up, no abalones allowed to be taken from their native element until they have had time to replenish their numerical strength. Such are the prognostications of Senator-elect L. H. Roseberry...”


June 10, 1910 [SBI]: “Two Japanese abalone fishermen, employed by Frank Mura, also a fisherman, left Santa Barbara 18 days ago in a gasoline launch for San Miguel Island, and have not been seen or herd of since. Mura fears that the boat with its crew and $1500 worth of equipment got into the ‘blind breakers’ on the west end of Santa Rosa Island and foundered. Boats returning from San Miguel bring the information that no Japanese have landed there, and Mura’s fishing camp is deserted. He has put up a small corrugated iron hut on the beach where the men were to have landed. Mura is an old man with scraggly beard, and anxiety over the fate of his boat and employees is wearing on him. He spends his time on the commercial wharf or around the Larco fish market, waiting for news of the fishing launch. A large catch of abalones had been stored in the hut on the island, and the boat was to have returned to the mainland with a load for shipment to China at once. Mura had been gathering the large abalone that are not protected by the state law.”


April 16, 1911 [SBMP]: “A Summer Cruise in the Sunset Sea... The voyagers skirted the south side of Santa Cruz Island, stopping a day or two in Smugglers Cove, where they found a party of Japanese fishermen using diving suits in their quest for crawfish.”


August 22, 1911 [SBMP]: “Time to act. After several years of protection by a continued closed season the abalone is again open legally to capture… On Santa Cruz Island, whose fishing privileges they have rented, is a camp of Japanese engaged in the abalone fishing. They are equipped with a diving apparatus and daily one of their number descends into the realm of crustacean and shellfish. The Japanese fisherman is singularly thorough in his work. He resembles the sheep in thoroughness. He does not appear to care about the future of the fishing ground. He gets what he can…”


August 27, 1911 [SBMP]: “Both north and south of Santa Barbara, the authorities are enforcing the laws regulating the taking of abalone. Recently two Chinamen were arrested in San Luis Obispo County for having undersized abalone in their possession... Now a Los Angeles dispatch tells that nine Japanese are under arrest at Santa Ana as a result of the capture of the Japanese fishing schooner Togo… The bail of the men was fixed at $25 each.”


September 1, 1911 [SBMP]: “There is no danger of Santa Cruz Island being the scene of a clash between American and Japanese fishermen, according to H. T. Komai, manager of the Asahi Fishing Company of Los Angeles, which claims to have the exclusive camping privileges on the island. A report was circulated in Santa Barbara yesterday to the effect that such as desired to camp on the island should apply to it for the privilege. ‘Although we have paid A. J. Caire, manager of Santa Cruz Island Company, $180 for the exclusive camping privilege for the season, we do not intend to get into a scrap with anyone,’ said Mr. Komai last night. ‘There are now about a dozen other parties on the island, but I do not consider it our business to drive them off. As we have paid for the privilege, I believe Mr. Caire should protect us. It is certain that we are not going to start any trouble. I expect to see Mr. Caire about it in the morning.’ Mr. Komai further states that his company has paid the $10 license for each of the men, as the state law provides for foreigners. The company has up to the present time been fishing for abalone. There has been some comment because of the fact that a diving outfit was being used. Komai states that it is not used for black abalone, which haunt shallow waters. But the red, green, and pink abalone only frequent waters from ten to twelve fathoms, and that the only way they can be caught is by using the diving outfit. It takes ten men to crew when this is used… The Asahi Company dried its catch, and most of it is shipped to the Orient through a San Francisco agency. The Asahi Fishing Company of Los Angeles will this week move its camp from Scorpion to Pelican Harbor, and expects to start on the crawfish September 15...”


September 2, 1911 [SBMP]: “R. Cameron Rogers called attention to the fact that Japanese fishermen are using diving outfits for abalone at Santa Cruz Island. He expressed the opinion that this practice would result in the complete extermination of the abalone, and the following resolution was adopted: Resolved that the Board of Santa Barbara County be urged to take whatever measures may be in their power to make unlawful the use of diving equipment in fishing for abalone.”


September 16, 1911 [SBMP]: “How many thousand crawfish were taken from the waters of the Santa Barbara Channel yesterday, the first day of the open season, will never be known, but it is certain that the number was enormous... ’It is said that one can almost walk on crawfish pots from Santa Barbara to Rincon in one direction, and to Point Conception in the other,’ Supervisor H. J. Doulton yesterday, ‘and on the islands, I am informed, the Japanese have hundreds of men engaged in catching crawfish...”


September 16, 1911 [Lompoc Journal]: “Japanese exact toll of white fishermen on coast. If you want to get on Santa Cruz Island to fish you must be able to shout 'Banzai' and carry the flag of the rising sun, for the picturesque spot 25 miles off the coast of Santa Barbara no longer is for the use and delight of fashionables who used to cross the channel to catch abalone. A firm in San Francisco, which controls this beautiful island, has leased all fishing privileges to a Japanese company, and notice has been served on all white men that they cannot fish along the shores once so hospitable. The Japanese have posted the following notice, painted on large sign boards and placed in conspicuous places:

'Warning — Those desiring to camp on Santa Cruz Island to fish shall apply to the Ashai Fishing Company, 107-1/2 East First Street, Los Angeles.'”


September 17, 1911 [SBMP]: “A rumor, which could not be confirmed, was received in Santa Barbara yesterday that in a clash between fishermen on Santa Cruz Island, two Japanese had been killed Friday... Some color is lent to the report by the knowledge that trouble has been brewing between American and Japanese fishermen which grew out of a Japanese fishing concern securing an exclusive to camp on the island... Returning fishermen today will be questioned.”


September 19, 1911 [SBMP]: “The unconfirmed, and what proves to be unfounded, report of the killing of two Japanese on Santa Cruz Island last week, has called forth ‘an interview from Fred F. Caire of Oakland, one of the owners of the island and president of the company, who denies having leased fishing privilege to the Japs. To the San Francisco Call he said: ‘My company gave the Japanese fishermen the privilege of camping on the island. The Japanese were not given exclusive privilege of the fishing in the waters surrounding the island, nor were they given any authority to repel landing parties. The Japanese had no authority from the Santa Cruz Island Company to prevent fishermen from using the waters surrounding the island. The only understanding between them and the company was that they would be allowed camping privileges on the island, and nothing more.’ The manager of the Japanese company holding privileges from the Caire company displayed his contract with that company when in Santa Barbara recently, and declared that it was up to the Caires to see that its provisions were enforced. The Japanese interpreted their agreement as covering exclusive privileges for crawfish and abalone fishing, which were expressly conveyed in the contract for which they had paid $180 for the season.”


December 9, 1911 [LAT/LB]: “Would limit abalone catch. C. B. Linton who controls the abalone and pearl concessions of San Miguel and San Clemente islands, is much interested in the application of the Catalina Tuna Club to have the Board of Supervisors limit the daily catch of abalones to fifty pounds each day for each fisherman. Mr. Linton believes the catch should be limited so far as red and green abalones are concerned, but will protest against its application to the black abalones, which he says, are in no danger of extinction since 20 percent of them live within the lines of the surf and are not within the reach of divers or ebb workers. He says that the green and red abalones are easy pickings for the Japanese divers, most of whom are no respecters of the Fish and Game laws, but denude the localities in which they work...”


December 11, 1911 [LAT]: “Abalone Pearl Farm. Information has been received by President Newbert of the State Fish and Game Commission, that an abalone pearl farm established on San Clemente Island by private enterprise has proved successful and that several of the islands of Southern California may be devoted to the production of the pearls, which are said to be unusually large and beautiful… The abalone farm was established on San Clemente Island over a year ago by C. B. Linton of Long Beach, who has abalone concessions on that island, also San Nicolas, Santa Barbara and San Miguel islands. For years the abalones were almost cleaned out by Japanese divers, who were not generally known to have secured pearls. They sold the meat and shells and pocketed the pearls without ostentation, and it is only of late years that it has been discovered that the brown men have carried off fortunes in pearls.”


January 20, 1912 [SBMP]: “Captain Henry Short, arriving from San Miguel Island on his powerboat Charm, reports that Japanese fishermen camped on the island have told of recently finding the body of a white man on the extreme end of San Miguel. While not identified, it is supposed to have been that of the mate of the lumber schooner Comet, wrecked off San Miguel last fall... The Japanese dug a grave and buried the man, marking the place. Captain Short verified the story by going to see the freshly formed mound.”


July 27, 1912 [LAT]: “Avalon. Hot on the trail of a party of smugglers the government launches Orient and Imp dashed into this port before daylight, but the officers failed to find their men. Chased from San Clemente Island it was thought that the fugitives would hide their craft in one of the little coves around Catalina… For several days a party of Japanese have been under surveillance. Late last evening they disappeared entirely…”


September 17, 1912 [LAT]: “The chief topic of conversation today among Long Beach boatmen was the death at San Pedro of a Japanese abalone fisherman from the effects of a blow delivered in self-defense last week by young Frank Paschall, son of the owner of the launch Panama. The trouble occurred last week during a trip of the launch from San Clemente. According to the information available the Jap was drunk and had been put below decks. Paschall was talking to some of the crew when he heard a shout of warning and turned in time to see the Jap rushing toward him with a drawn knife. Paschall seized an iron bar and hit the Jap over the head, knocking him unconscious. The boat came on to the mainland and the Jap was put ashore at San Pedro, where he died. Paschall, it is understood, is now at San Clemente, having returned there Saturday night with the launch. His brother went to San Pedro today to investigate.”


September 27, 1912 [LAT]: “It is with no small charges that residents of this county interested in the protection of the abalone beds along the rocky coast of this county must sit still while crews of Japanese divers clean out the abalone beds along the rocky coast of San Pedro. At present a number of the Japs are camped in a cove at Dana’s Point, four miles from San Juan Capistrano. Another camp is established at the mouth of Aliso Canyon. The Japs are taking not only everything that can be reached at low tide, but they are equipped with diving apparatus and crowbars, and wherever they operate they take out everything of any size… The officers found that the Japs are following the law, which places no limit on the amount that may be taken. It regulates size, and specifies that the abalones must be brought ashore before the meat and shells are separated. ‘The law is lame,’ said Koepsel. ‘The next legislature can be called upon to pass a new law protecting our abalones, but in the meantime these Japanese will have our coast stripped, and the taking of abalones by campers and residents of this section as a sport will be a thing of the past”…


June 1913: “…In gathering abalones sometimes a crew is composed of six divers who work without suits up to a depth of twenty feet and some of them remain under water for as long as two minutes… Every two hours they return to the launch to be warmed at the fire. It takes the united efforts of these six men to equal the catch of one diver in a suit… A camp of fourteen Japanese fishermen brings in thirty tons, or more, of the fresh abalone in a month…”


1913 “Santa Cruz Island. — Most of the black, green and corrugated abalones had been taken from Santa Cruz Island by about 1898. In 1911, the Japanese diver, Yokayama, worked here fourteen days and was obliged to retire from the field because of the lack of abalones. There are now many small black abalones around this island.“ [Charles Lincoln Edwards The Abalone Industry in California, USC, (1913)]


December 1, 1914 [TI/Avalon]: “Japanese fishermen are still looking for habitations on the west side… Another report is that the Japanese are planning to establish a cannery on Catalina Island and establish a Japanese colony there…”


September 15, 1915 [SBDNI]: “A Japanese named Ento Miyamatsa was drowned off Santa Cruz Island yesterday afternoon. The body was brought to this city, and an inquest held today. The deceased was a fisherman, and fell from his boat.”


September 15, 1915 [SBMP]: “Ento Miyamatsa, a Japanese sailor, was drowned at Santa Cruz Island late yesterday afternoon. The body was recovered in about twenty minutes and hurried to this city in the hope that something might be done. The Japanese sailed on the Rambler, which, with another vessel sailed from Port Los Angeles with a party of easterners on a fishing trip. The body was taken to the Gagnier undertaking parlors, where an inquest will be conducted at 9 o’clock this morning.”


September 16, 1915 [SBMP]: “Yesterday morning Coroner Ruiz held an inquest on the remains of Edno Mayamatsu, the Japanese sailor who was drowned at Santa Cruz Island last Tuesday afternoon, and whose body was recovered twenty minutes later and brought to this city and taken to Gagnier's undertaking establishment... The jury returned a verdict of death by accidental drowning.”


May 11, 1916 [SBMP]: “Japanese fishermen given heavy fines. Evasion of law at Catalina Island proves expensive to gill-netters. Setting gill nets about Catalina Island proved an expensive evasion of the laws yesterday when the four Japanese arrested late in March by Deputy Pritchard in charge of the Fish and Game commission’s sea patrol were found guilty by the superior court, Judge McCormick imposing fine, which in indictable misdemeanors such as all violations of the net laws, is $100 minimum…”


August 1, 1916 [TI/Avalon]: “Forty-two Japanese fishing boats were at anchor in Avalon bay Friday night. Over a hundred boats are engaged daily in albacore fishing.”


August 5, 1916 [LAH]: “Stories of the rescue of H. Honda of the fishing boat Hujo, wrecked on Santa Catalina Island, were brought to Los Angeles harbor by visitors returning from the island. George A. Greeley, owner of the Greeley stage coach line between Avalon and the Isthmus, found Honda wandering about, his clothing torn and his feet bleeding, almost overcome by lack of food and water. Honda was taken to Avalon, where he was cared for. He told the story of the wreck of the Hujo on the island near Silver Cave. The members of the crew took refuge in Silver Cave and Honda started in search of assistance. Boats were sent out to pull the Hujo off the sand and rescue the crew.”


August 19, 1916 [SBMP]: “At Larco’s fish market yesterday morning was on exhibition one of the largest swordfish ever seen here. It was caught by Martin Suich, a Santa Barbara fisherman who was out in his motor boat fishing in the waters of the lower channel, in his nets that had been lowered at a point midway between Ventura and the islands. The swordfish was twelve feet long, and weighed 440 pounds. It was shipped last evening to Los Angeles where it will be the prize of the Japanese epicures, who esteem certain pasts of this marine monster a great delicacy.”


November 7, 1916 [TI/Avalon]: “On Friday, while trying to land on the beach at White’s, Mr. and Mrs. Carl I. Warnecke, of Oakland, capsized and sank their little launch, and were compelled to swim ashore. The launch was afterwards raised and towed into Avalon by a party of Japanese fishermen…”


March 2, 1917 [OC]: “Gathering abalones used to be quite a sport about Catalina, an old piece of buggy spring being used as a tool to pry them off the rocks at low tide. Then the Japanese cleaned the island. Now the abalones are becoming quite plentiful again, and up the Malibu coast, around the Portuguese Bend cliffs and other rocky headlands, abalone parties may be quite the thing if the ‘ten per day’ limit on black abalones is made. The red, pink and green abalones may be taken now, but are rarer here.”


August 7, 1917 [LAT]: “The first arrest under the new California anti-seining laws occurred Sunday morning, when the Fish and Game Commission’s sea patrol, Captain H. B. Nidever commanding, put into Avalon with three Japanese, apprehended for round-hauling bait off White’s Landing within the forbidden Catalina district No. 20 consecrated to anglers…”


August 9, 1917 [SBMP]: “Having been at sea a week, and mystifying everybody about their movements, Captain H. B. Nidever, and the Fish and Game Commission’s sea patrol put into Avalon Sunday morning with three Japanese fishermen under arrest for round-hauling bait off White’s Landing, within the forbidden Catalina district No. 20, consecrated to anglers. Justice Peckham at once held court in his laboratory, and held the Japanese to answer to the sum of $40 bail, Captain Nidever having the net, fish and all other evidence under seizure. These men are the first to be apprehended since the new law became effective. They are to be tried in the superior court.”


August 14, 1917 [TI/Avalon]: “In the case of the People vs. T. Kashunn, et. al, the date for the preliminary hearing has been set for Friday, August 17th, at 2 o’clock P.M. before Justice J. J. Peckham. The Japanese were arrested for hauling for bait with a 400-foot net at White’s Landing August 15th…”


August 22, 1917 [SBDN]: “Threatening loss of life to the eight Japanese aboard, the fishing boat Summiyoshi, owned by the Halfhill Tuna Packing Company of Long Beach and on its way to Santa Cruz Island, went ashore late Monday at the mouth of the Santa Clara River… The boat was on its way to Santa Cruz where they fish for tuna and albacore…”


August 24, 1917 [SBDN]: “Tugs have worked in vain to get the fishing boat Simmiyoshi off the beach near the mouth of the Santa Clara River, where she went ashore Monday afternoon. The boat and property aboard, which will be lost, will probably reach $2000. The boat went ashore in fog while the Japanese fishermen were trying to get bait for their tuna and albacore fishing in the district about Santa Cruz Island.”


September 1, 1917 [SBDN]: “Two fishing boats, the Halfhill No. 5, owned by the Halfhill Canning Company of Long Beach, and a Japanese fishing boat valued at $4000 each, have been lost on the rocks at the east end of Santa Cruz Island. The boats ran on the submerged rocks while fishing for albacore. Captain C. Frink of the supply boat Seafarer, brought news of the wrecks late yesterday afternoon, having put in here for another load of provisions.”


September 2, 1917 [LAT]: “Santa Barbara. Captain C. Fink of the supply boat Seafarer, has come in from Santa Cruz Island with news of the loss of two fishing boats, the Halfhill, owned by the Halfhill Canning Company of Long Beach, and a Japanese boat, each valued at $4000. The boats ran onto the submerged rocks at the east end of Santa Cruz Island, near Smuggler’s Cove, while fishing. There is a bare possibility that the Halfhill may be pulled from the rocks, though her position is perilous. The other boat has already been pounded to pieces.”


September 4, 1917 [LAT]: “Joseph Asherton, an American fisherman, was brought here tonight in custody of officers, from Santa Cruz Island. He is charged with killing a Japanese fisherman by the name of Nio, at the island. It is alleged that the Japanese accused Asherton of stealing fish and that Asherton went to Nio’s boat and stabbed him with a boat hook. Officers W. H. Box, Walter Madler and H. F. Glave went to the island and arrested Asherton. Nio was stabbed Friday and died in the Crocker Street Hospital, Los Angeles, yesterday.”


September 4, 1917 [SBDN]: “Information about what is believed to have been a murder committed at Santa Cruz Island last week is being gathered by the sheriff’s office today. The report received by Sheriff Stewart is that Joseph Asherton, a San Pedro fisherman, last week at Smugglers Harbor, Santa Cruz Island, stabbed a Japanese fisherman named T. Nio; that Nio was taken to a San Pedro hospital and died there and that San Pedro officers arrested Asherton and took him to San Pedro where he is now in jail. Since Santa Cruz Island is in Santa Barbara County, Sheriff Stewart believes that the trial for murder, which is expected to follow a coroner’s inquest now being held in San Pedro, will be in Santa Barbara. Because he expects that Asherton will be tried here, Sheriff Stewart is now seeking for information about the stabbing which he did not learn of before because both the man who was stabbed and the man who did the stabbing were taken to San Pedro without any word of the affair being brought here to the mainland.”


September 5, 1917 [SBMP]: “Fatal stabbing affair. It was learned yesterday that T. Nio, a Japanese fisherman at camp on Santa Cruz Island, a few days ago, had died at San Pedro, whither he was taken after the tragedy, and that his alleged assailant, Joseph Asherton, a fisherman resident of San Pedro who had been working in the island waters recently, has been arrested in that city. As the scene of the alleged crime was within the territory of Santa Barbara County, if the authorities decide that Asherton is to be tried for his alleged crime, he will have to be brought to Santa Barbara for trial.”


September 7, 1917 [SBMP]: “Jack Asselton, a fisherman accused of the murder of T. Nio, a Japanese, has been lodged in the Santa Barbara county jail, he being brought here yesterday by policeman Glaz of San Pedro, where the arrest took place. The affray took place several days ago at Smugglers Cove, Santa Cruz Island, a quarrel starting over bait. Nio was stabbed with a boat hook, and he was hurried to San Pedro for treatment.”


September 21, 1917 [OC]: “The preliminary examination of Jack Asselton, charged with murder in the killing of T. Nio, a Japanese fisherman, at Smugglers Cove, Santa Cruz Island September 1, was held in Justice Wheaton’s court yesterday morning… The defendant was held to answer to the superior court, his bond being fixed at $10,000…”


August 8, 1918 [LAT]: “The first big loads of tuna since the first few days following the end of the strike of Japanese fishermen last month were brought in today by the cannery tenders from Anacapa Island. Some of the canneries received from fifteen to twenty tons of fish, which, considering the small number of fishing boats in the vicinity of the Channel Islands at the time the fish began biting, are considered heavy catches…”


October 22, 1918 [SBMP]: “Fishing in the channel during the past few months has exceeded all expectations… Albacore have been running lively and the hauls landed have netted exceptional cash returns at the San Pedro canneries. Fishing about six weeks ago in local waters was so fine that more than 500 smacks patrolled the channel, using Anacapa Island as a base of operations. Owing to a scarcity of bait, many of those who make their livelihood from this trade became disgruntled and left for the south. This was particularly noticeable among the Japanese fishermen…”


August 7, 1919 [LAT]: “The first arrest under the new California anti-seining laws occurred Sunday morning, when the Fish and Game Commission’s sea patrol, Captain H. B. Nidever commanding, put into Avalon with three Japanese, apprehended for round-hauling bait off White’s Landing within the forbidden Catalina District No. 20, consecrated to anglers…”


August 15, 1919 [OC]: “Postmaster George R. Bellah has been fishing for albacore off Santa Cruz Island, going with the Japanese fishing boat. The start was made from Point Mugu.”


July 28, 1920 [Red Bluff Daily News]: “Fishermen violating concession Catalina. Los Angeles, July 28. — Deputy sheriff's were sent today to waters off Catalina Island, following reports of alleged violation of fishing laws by Japanese and Austrian fishermen. The fishermen were said to have defied state game and fish warden Harrington. They were reported to be fishing within the three mile limit and to be heavily armed.”


July 29, 1920 [Red Bluff Daily News]: “Fishermen to be arrested poaching limit. Avalon, Catalina Island, July 29. — Deputy United States Marshal Glover today was preparing to serve fifty or more warrants for the arrest of Japanese and Austrian fishermen for alleged poaching within the three-mile limit.”


August 4, 1920 [LAH]: “Fishermen battle. Vessel blown up. San Diego, August 4.— The police today expressed the belief that ill feeling among the Japanese an Italian and Austrian fishermen operating off the Southern California coast, has led to a sea battle in which the Japanese fishing schooner Yomato was blown up or sunk and her entire crew slain. Bits of wreckage from the Yomato were found today. Recently four bodies were washed ashore. How many lives were lost is unknown.”


August 7, 1920 [LAH]: “Hunt Austrians as Jap boat wrecks. Nets on Japanese fishing craft were tucked in lockers today and the smacks themselves idled back and forth in zig-zag courses over the fishing lanes while the expressionless faces of their owners searched the sea for sight of certain Austrian boats, wanted in connection with the sinking of the Jap boat Itzumato. Government patrol boats are plying over fishing banks in Southern California waters on the same mission, trying to find the craft and its crew believed to be responsible for the ramming of the Itzumato and the probable murder of its crew. Working to end the feud prevailing for weeks between Japanese and Austrian fishermen, Fish and Game Warden Paul Anderson, on board the patrol boat Albacore, came on the wrecked Itzumato off Catalina Island last night. Coincident with the report of the finding of the Itzumato, it was reported in San Diego by American fishermen that the crew of a wrecked Japanese boat had been picked up by an Italian fishing craft. Word of the Phrone Rose, an Austrian boat, has not been received for the past 10 days and authorities are now confident that this boat has meet the same fate as the other, being sunk with her crew on board. The fishing boat Wanderer of San Pedro, abandoned by her crew because of a broken propeller shaft, is now believed to be a derelict at sea, according to the latest reports. With the finding of the wrecked Itzumato, four boats are now missing in Southern California waters, only one of which has been fully accounted for. Besides the Wanderer and Phrone Rose, a Japanese boat named Yomato disappeared last month and is believed to have been swallowed up by the sea and her crew murdered in the Jap-Austrian warfare.”