The History of Chinese Abalone Fishing in California

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Date: January 25, 2017
Contact: Yvonne Menard, 805-658-5725

San Diego State University Associate Professor of Anthropology Todd Braje will use the northern Channel Islands as a case study to explore the history of Chinese abalone fishing in southern California during the February From Shore to Sea lecture.   
In nineteenth-century California, a small group of Chinese immigrants, who came from a traditional fishing province in China, founded the first commercial California abalone fishery. Over the next several decades, the multimillion-dollar abalone industry would rise and fall. Disease and overfishing eventually caused the collapse of the fishery, with several species driven to the brink of extinction.
Braje’s talk, which is a culmination of over a decade of field, archival, and laboratory work, will explore new research into the reasons for the decline of this industry. He will use the lessons learned from this case study as lenses through which to view both the broader history of Chinese immigrants in America and the approaches we can take today towards improving marine ecosystems.
Braje is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at San Diego State University and has worked on the northern Channel Islands for over a decade. Braje, whose studies focus on the archaeology of maritime societies, has conducted research on a variety of archaeological sites, ranging from 12,000-year-old shell middens and stone tool scatters to nineteenth-century fishing camps. Braje’s most recent book was published in 2016 by the University of Utah Press, and is titled, Shellfish for the Celestial Empire: The Rise and Fall of Commercial Abalone Fishing in California.
The talk will be held on Thursday, February 9, 2017. The From Shore to Sea lecture series is sponsored by Channel Islands National Park to further the understanding of current research on the Channel Islands and surrounding marine waters. The 2017 lecture series will take place at 7:00 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month, January through December, at the Channel Islands National Park Robert J. Lagomarsino Visitor Center, 1901 Spinnaker Drive in Ventura Harbor. The programs are free and open to the public.

This lecture can also be viewed live online at: Shore to Sea lecture series.
 Lectures are recorded and posted at:

Last updated: January 27, 2017

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